As a girl, I remember spending countless Sunday mornings spring cleaning with my mum, the two of us bobbing along to “My Baby Just Cares for Me,” polishing cloth in hand. Nina Simone’s music, (along with Disney’s Mulan, the BBC production of Pride and Prejudice and all 8 seasons of Charmed!), has always felt like an essential part of my relationship with my mum; something that connects me to her and always will.
Simone’s music is both uplifting and heart-warming, powerful and moving. To me, her lyrics and the way that she expressed herself always showed a great deal of care, were they about her relationship with her daughter, with men, with her country and politics, or even with herself. The pain, as well as the joy she expressed through her music continues to move me. Her unique voice and thoughtful, creative musical choices made messages like that of “Mississippi Goddam” even more poignant: this classically trained, bluesy, incredibly soulful, artist combined so many experiences together, making so many people from different walks of life fall in love with her music. Just as her music seems to transport my mum to this otherworldly place (as suits the ‘High Priestess of Soul’), her music grounds me. The fusion of styles and influences in her body of work makes it a particularly attractive way for me to explore who I am, as I often feel like someone made up of many different parts. Her music has also provided me with a way to better connect with my mum as I’ve grown up, helping me to understand what links us, how we are similar and how I might learn from her.
When searching for an image for this blog post, this one of Simone and her daughter seemed fitting as it brought back so many moments of warmth and comfort that I shared with my mum through Simone’s music. It also reminded me that Nina Simone has not only shaped part of my childhood, but as my mum was born in the ‘60s, she played a similar role in hers as well. What an incredible thing to have been introduced to one talented, powerful black woman by another, both of whom I admired for her strength and talents. Despite going through struggles, both women in their own ways held onto their conviction and never forgot who they were in the process. They have both reminded me how much power I myself have as someone young and gifted, something that has served to shape me into the woman I am today.
Girl Museum Inc.