Jazz great Nina Simone died today (April 21) at her home in the south of France. She was 70. The cause of death was not announced, but she had battled cancer. Simone is survived by a daughter, Lisa.

Jazz great Nina Simone died today(April 21) at her home in the south of France. She was 70. The cause of death was not announced, but she had battled cancer. Simone is survived by a daughter, Lisa.

With a high-intensity voice that was among the most distinctive in American music, Simone straddled the boundaries between pop, R&B, blues, folk, and jazz. Trained at Juilliard as a classical pianist, she began her career as an accompanist. She then signed to Bethlehem Records, where she scored a No. 2 R&B hit and entered the pop top 20 in 1959 with George Gershwin's "I Loves You, Porgy." She charted in the '60s with renditions of blues standards "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out" and "Trouble in Mind," and an arrangement of Screamin' Jay Hawkins' "I Put a Spell on You."

Simone, who recorded for Mercury, Verve, Philips, and RCA Victor, left the U.S. in the '70s and lived nomadically in Europe, Africa, and the Caribbean. She earned a reputation as a difficult and unpredictable performer, and recorded only sporadically in later years. She published a caustic autobiography, "I Put a Spell on You," in 1991.

In recent years, her music was cited as an influence on such artists as Fiona Apple and Jeff Buckley.