52 Years Ago, Nina Simone Sat Backstage At The Village Gate In NYC

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52 years ago today, Nina Simone sat backstage at the Village Gate, a famous jazz club in New York City’s Greenwich Village.

Our staff photographer Sam Falk took this portrait of the singer while she waited to record a live session. Nina, born Eunice Waymon, grew up singing in a church choir and studying piano.

She received a scholarship to the Juilliard School of Music in 1950 and worked as an accompanist and piano teacher to help support herself through school. But when the money ran out, she began playing piano at a bar and grill in Atlantic City, where she assumed her stage name. (She later explained, she didn’t want her mother to find out what she was doing.)

In her long career, Nina had only one Top 20 hit — her very first single, ”I Loves You, Porgy,” released in 1959 — but her following was large and loyal and her impact deep and lasting. After the soulful diva died in 1970 at 70, the Village Gate continued to draw performers as celebrated as Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk. It closed its doors in 1994 and reopened as Le Poisson Rouge in 2008.

On this day in 1965, 52 years ago today, Nina Simone sat backstage at the Village Gate, a famous jazz club in New York City’s Greenwich Village. Our staff photographer Sam Falk took this portrait of the singer while she waited to record a live session. Nina, born Eunice Waymon, grew up singing in a church choir and studying piano. She received a scholarship to the Juilliard School of Music in 1950 and worked as an accompanist and piano teacher to help support herself through school. But when the money ran out, she began playing piano at a bar and grill in Atlantic City, where she assumed her stage name. She later explained that she hadn't wanted her mother to find out what she was up to. In her long career, Nina had only one Top 20 hit — her very first single, ''I Loves You, Porgy,'' released in 1959 — but her following was large and loyal and her impact deep and lasting. The soulful diva died in 2003 at 70. The Village Gate closed its doors in 1994 and reopened as Le Poisson Rouge in 2008. — @jlynnanderso, @nytimes social editor #NinaSimone #OnThisDay #🎤

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