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Little Girl Blue: The Unedited Story of Nina Simone’s Life

This past weekend I saw a little girl blue. A musical in New York City about the life and career of singer Nina Simone. Nina Simone is known as one of history’s most influential and revolutionary jazz singers. She’s known for her sultry music that also had undertones of sadness, happiness, and progression. Despite having a world win career and having such a claim to fame, this musical depicts the reality of her life. A tumultuous and grief-stricken one.

This show starts out with Nina performing for thousands of people in New York City. She comes to the stage in all of her glamor ready to sing for an audience who unfortunately just learned of the killing of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. She’s told that while she would love to sing some of her revolutionary songs that uplift black voices, she’s been told not to. This mimics her real life as she was known for singing some of the most popular songs that triumphed for black voices and freedom. But she was faced with much adversity over these songs and unfortunately was told that she could not perform them anymore. Within the first 10 minutes of this musical, we already see how Nina has no say in her own music and how she’s controlled by her record and her label, and those who are surrounding her. She has a deep conflict between wanting to be able to sing about matters that are important to her and also having to stay within the lines that are drawn for her.

Not only is she faced with having to deal with the realities of not being able to sing about meaningful things that not only correlate with her experience as a black woman but also songs that resonate with the resounding shift as a nation that we’re seeing at this time, but she also has to deal with the racism of being labeled. She’s known to this very day as a prominent jazz musician but she longs to be a classical musician labeled as one of the greats like Bach and Mozart. She talks about how she was a child genius showing much potential from an early age but unfortunately was unable to pursue the career path she wanted because of her blackness. This seems to haunt her throughout her adulthood because even with being as prominent as she is, she’s unsatisfied with the music that’s chosen her.

And lastly, we see her conflicting relationships with both her parents and her spouse. With her family, she feels as though she’s not supported having both a strained relationship with her mother and father over her choices. When it comes to her romantic relationships she’s faced with constant disappointment and hurt. Her life is far from the glamour that was often shown and has encompassed more grief than anything.

While this show was a bit heartbreaking to watch it was for the most part accurate. We didn’t see the glamorized life that is often attributed to jazz singers or Motown singers or any famous prominent black artist. We see at the heart of it, the struggles that this singer faced and the adversity that she had to overcome. We see her deal with her daily struggles and battles day today and how these things have shaped her life and her music. So would I recommend this to you? Of course! While it may not be the feel-good musical you were hoping for it is one that puts into perspective the struggles, triumphs, and barriers of musicians especially black musicians in this country.

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