While Eunice Waymon played piano and sang at her mother’s church, she learned jazz tunes at her Daddy’s knee. Then again, she loved the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, and became a celebrity in her small North Carolina town.

However, the times in which she lived and grew were difficult for black people. Thereafter, her parents were denied front row seats to see her play. What’s more, she lost a place at the prestigious Curtis Institute allegedly because she was black.

Thereafter, her music became bigger, more emotional, fuelled with the passion of protest of racial inequality. As Nina Simone, she performed against the backdrop of the civil rights’ movement, inspiring audiences across America and through the world.

Nina is a mighty picture book, with a moving, thoughtful, developmental biography of Nina Simone, beautifully illustrated in collage and bold colours by award-winning illustrator Christian Robinson.

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A Story of Nina Simone

Words by Traci N.Todd, pictures by Christian Robinson


Eunice Waymon learned her music at her mother’s church and father’s piano jazz playing. Thereafter, she walked three miles there and back to lessons with Miss Mazzy, who  taught Eunice ‘classical musicwritten long ago for kings and queens‘. Her talent drew attention from townspeople, though there were times when ‘white folks seemed to notice her’ and ‘didn’t want to her be around’.
While Eunice’s place at Julliard School of Music seemed that continuing to  the Curtis Institute was assured, it seems she was ‘rejected because she was black‘. Thereafter, while Eunice gave up music, it seems that the music could not give her up. What’s more, times were changing, with a new energy of civil rights, that seems to have inspired her performance and then her audience. In order to not compromise her mother, the Eunice Waymon who was, performed as Nina Simone, winning acclaim, attention and audiences across America and around the world. What’s more, her songs became anthem to the civil rights cause.
Like Ella Queen of Jazz, Nina is a story of struggle, oppression, talent and legacy. Furthermore, it is a picture book that stirs, informs and inspires. Bookwagon loves and recommends this quality title to readers at home and school, and as a story to know and treasure.


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