Watch Kimbra Sing Nina Simone: Candid Covers
The New Zealand singer sings Simone's "Plain Gold Ring" in this first in a series of "Women In Music"-themed "Candid Covers."
Quintessential American jazz/pop/soul legend Nina Simone has held a special place in Kimbra's heart ever since the New Zealander's formative years. Watch below as the Kiwi chanteuse covers a song made famous by the unique woman whose music influenced small moments in her school days and the big picture of her own current musical success.
I was aware of Nina Simone as a kid growing up because I was in this jazz choir at school and we used to do these medleys of different jazz songs," Kimbra says. "I remember a few of Nina Simone's songs were in there."
But Kimbra explains that the specific song "Plain Gold Ring," which she covers here, has become particularly important to her as she's seen her own star rise over the last two years --- she famously sang the hook on Gotye's Hot 100 No. 1 hit "Somebody That I Used To Know" and watched her debut album "Vows" debut at No. 14 on the Billboard 200 album chart this summer. Kimbra says she felt the Nina Simone song has "moved me so much, it was so haunting," that she "felt it deserved a place" on "Vows." "It has grown with me and come to me more and more as I've developed."
It comes as an apt coincidence, then, that the spare-yet-emotional jazz/R&B ballad with lyrics that Kimbra calls "quite cold but also kind of heartbreaking" was recorded by 24-year-old Nina Simone for her debut album "Little Girl Blue" and recorded by 21-year-old Kimbra Lee Johnson for her debut.
"Nina Simone was a fearless performer -- she just put everything out there," Kimbra says. "And the song, what struck me about it was its simplicity. All it is is just this baseline and piano part and her voice at the top of it."
Kimbra has conquered many formidable performances herself in 2012 -- touring with Gotye and Foster The People as well as completing her own first U.S. headlining trek. The New Zealand singer/songwriter will be spending the Australian winter -- December and January -- on festival stages down under.