Various Artists – Nina Revisited…A Tribute to Nina Simone

nina revisited a tribute to nina simoneAs an artist Nina Simone was all about that emotion and that came through in spades in her live performances. She was a storyteller with her voice. The tone, the inflections, the cadence, etc. It all worked together to convey the emotion of the song. When she sang you lived the emotion alongside her. Very few artists in the history of music have been able to do this as well as Nina Simone. Now these artists are taking on the monumental task of doing covers of an artist of that ilk. Daunting to say the least. As you might expect some of the artists are successful in their takes on her songs while others are less so. Some of the choices of artists are quite obvious with Lauryn Hill (I refuse to put the Ms. There), Common and Mary J. Blige. They all have put out work of their own that is dripping with realism and emotion. Lauryn Hill appears on a half dozen (the most we’ve gotten from her in a donkey’s age) tracks including, “Feeling Good” and “Black is the Color of My True Love’s Hair” and brings to the songs the muscle you would expect but there is also plenty of polish that I didn’t. That last aspect adds up to the songs being better than average. While there are other known entities on the roster of artists like Usher it is the comparative unknowns who steal the show. Simone’s daughter Lisa appears on a couple of tracks, “My Mama Could Sing” and “I Want a Little Sugar in My Bowl” playing piano/percussion. A stunning moment is Alice Smith’s sparely arranged “I Put a Spell on You”. Listening to it is an experience as her voice was unnerving (cannot think of another word). It is spectacular and she definitely brings something new to it. Because she was up to the Nina Simone standards I want to hear more from this lady.

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