Southern trees, baring strange fruit
May 27, 2006
The last time I won a competition, it was at some dumb theme park where the carni had to guess your age. After guessing me six years older than I was at the time, I walked away with an ugly and oversized doll of some sort for my sister. An ipod nano is a much better prize, especially as I’ve been ipodless since mine was stolen/lost at Lit. 4GB will fit about a tenth of my music, but I’m definitely not complaining. I’m also much happier with what I had to do to win it, write about my love for Nina Simone. The contest was by The Fader and they notified me two days ago that I won and shipped my ipod along with four Nina CD’s, most of which I already have but some of which is new and exciting, to me yesterday. Here’s the letter I wrote to win. I went overboard with the metaphors a bit, but it’s Nina and Nina must be writtern about with passion. It’ll be published in the next issue of Fader too. Frigging sweet eh?
She’ll leave fire in your eyes and coal in your heart,
Nina’s beautiful and fierce, with a voice hard as a
machete. I can’t get enough of that pain she sings so
true and that fervour, just this side of manic, that
drives her arrangements. That a woman should be so
delicate, so strong…
I love black music. I love soul. I can’t deal with R&B
today. Too few of these artists sing with this
passion, this burning passion, anger, love and
experience that you hear in every note of Nina’s
songs. Maybe Jill Scott or Lauryn Hill tap into that.
Erykah Badu sings with that righteous anger; Jaguar
Wright too. I love Nina because these women who sing
in her mold, echo her strength and her conviction are
wonderful in their own right, even as they are not
her. You hear these women, you see them perform and
you think majesty. Nina had majesty. It’s undeniable
when she sings about black men hanging, when she sings
playfully of her lover, in songs she wrote that tapped
into life in all it’s facets.
I love that she sang songs that felt personal (Just
Like a Woman), songs about the black struggle (Strange
Fruit, Black is the true color, etc.), playful love
songs (My Baby Just Cares), I wanna sex you up songs
(Sugar in my Bowl) and so many other things. I really
must stop gushing now. I love Nina and that I cannnot
deny. Let the world know. Thanks for putting her in an
issue and spreading the gospel.