Remembering her artistry and activism, hundreds of mourners crowded a church in Carry-Le-Rouet in southern France today (April 25) to bid farewell to jazz singer Nina Simone.
Remembering her artistry and activism, hundreds of mourners crowded a church in Carry-Le-Rouet in southern France today (April 25) to bid farewell to jazz singer Nina Simone. Simone, whose raspy, soulful voice and protest songs of the U.S. civil rights movement won her lasting acclaim, died on Monday at age 70 after a long illness in France, where she had lived for years.
Some 500 mourners -- including South African singer Miriam Makeba -- attended services in Carry-le-Rouet. Simone's daughter, a singer in her own right, belted out a gospel song; Elton John sent a bouquet of yellow roses. "She was a great artist, but she was also someone who fought for liberty," said Makeba, praising Simone's courage in the fight for equal rights for black Americans during the 1960s.
Simone was remembered for her eclectic talents: a classically trained pianist whose style recalled Billie Holiday; a protest singer who also adapted songs by the Bee Gees.
At her funeral, several speakers praised her activism and her courage in speaking out. "Nina Simone was a part of history," read a message from the South African government. "She fought for the liberation of black people. It is with much pain that we received the news of her death."
Simone left the U.S. in 1973 and lived in the Caribbean and Africa before settling in Europe. She didn't return to the U.S. until 1985 for a series of concerts. In a 1998 interview, Simone blamed racism in the U.S. for her decision to live abroad. In her last years, she remained a concert draw, though she was frail. At a 2001 concert at New York's Carnegie Hall, she needed help to get to the piano and was later seen sitting backstage in a wheelchair.
Simone, who was divorced twice, is survived by her daughter, Lisa -- a singer who goes by the name Simone. She interrupted her starring role in Broadway's "Aida" to attend her mother's funeral.
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