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Andrew Rivera
Andrew Rivera

Nina Simone: I Put A Spell On You - The Story of a Musical Genius and a Social Activist

I Put A Spell On You: The Autobiography Of Nina Simone books pdf file

If you are a fan of jazz, soul, or blues music, you have probably heard of Nina Simone. She was one of the most influential and iconic singers of the 20th century, known for her powerful voice, expressive style, and passionate activism. She was also a complex and controversial figure, who faced many challenges and hardships in her life. In this article, we will explore her autobiography, I Put A Spell On You, which she wrote with Stephen Cleary in 1991. We will learn more about her life story, her musical career, her political views, and her legacy. We will also tell you how to get a pdf file of the book for free.

I Put A Spell On You: The Autobiography Of Nina Simone books pdf file


Who was Nina Simone?

Nina Simone was born as Eunice Kathleen Waymon on February 21, 1933, in Tryon, North Carolina. She was the sixth of eight children in a poor black family. Her father was a handyman and preacher, and her mother was a housemaid and minister. She showed an early interest and talent in music, especially piano. She started playing at the age of three, and soon became the pianist for her mother's church. She also received classical music lessons from a white woman named Muriel Mazzanovich, who recognized her potential and helped her get a scholarship to study at the Juilliard School of Music in New York.

What is the book about?

I Put A Spell On You is the autobiography of Nina Simone, written with the help of Stephen Cleary, a British journalist and author. The book covers her life from her childhood to her later years, revealing her personal and professional experiences, struggles, achievements, opinions, and emotions. The book is divided into 12 chapters, each focusing on a different aspect or period of her life. The book also includes some photos of Nina and her family, friends, and colleagues.

Why is the book important?

The book is important because it gives us an insight into the mind and soul of one of the most remarkable artists of our time. It shows us how she overcame poverty, racism, sexism, violence, mental illness, and exile to become a world-famous singer and activist. It also shows us how she used her music as a tool for social change, expressing her views on civil rights, black power, feminism, and human rights. The book is honest, raw, and sometimes shocking, but also inspiring, humorous, and poetic. It is a testament to her courage, resilience, and creativity.

The Early Years

Nina's childhood and musical talent

Nina grew up in a segregated and oppressive society in the South. She faced discrimination and abuse from white people on a daily basis. She witnessed lynching, burning crosses, and Ku Klux Klan rallies. She also experienced domestic violence from her father, who beat her mother frequently. Despite these hardships, she found solace in music. She loved playing piano, singing gospel songs, and listening to classical composers like Bach, Beethoven, and Chopin. She dreamed of becoming a concert pianist and performing at Carnegie Hall.

Nina's struggle with racism and discrimination

Nina's dream of becoming a classical pianist was shattered when she was rejected by the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, despite having a brilliant audition. She believed that she was denied admission because of her race. She felt betrayed and angry, and decided to pursue a different career path. She moved to Atlantic City, where she started playing piano and singing in nightclubs to make a living. She also changed her name to Nina Simone, to avoid being recognized by her family and church, who disapproved of her playing "the devil's music". Nina means "little girl" in Spanish, and Simone was inspired by the French actress Simone Signoret.

Nina's education and career beginnings

Nina did not give up on her education, though. She enrolled at the New York College of Music, where she studied music theory, composition, and counterpoint. She also took private lessons from Vladimir Sokoloff, a renowned pianist and teacher. She continued to perform in clubs and bars, where she developed her unique style of blending jazz, blues, folk, gospel, and classical music. She also started writing her own songs, inspired by her personal experiences and observations. She attracted the attention of record labels, and signed her first contract with Bethlehem Records in 1958. Her debut album, Little Girl Blue, was released in 1959, and featured her hit version of "I Loves You Porgy" from George Gershwin's opera Porgy and Bess.

The Rise to Fame

Nina's breakthrough and success

Nina's career took off in the early 1960s, when she signed with Colpix Records. She recorded several albums with them, showcasing her versatility and range as a singer and musician. She also performed at prestigious venues like the Newport Jazz Festival, the Village Gate, and Carnegie Hall. She became known for her distinctive voice, which could be soft and sweet, or powerful and raspy. She also became known for her charismatic stage presence, which could be charming and playful, or fierce and defiant. She earned the nickname "The High Priestess of Soul", and gained a loyal fan base around the world.

Nina's activism and involvement in the civil rights movement

Nina was not only a musical artist, but also a social activist. She was deeply affected by the racial injustice and violence that plagued America in the 1960s. She was especially moved by the murder of Medgar Evers, a civil rights leader, in 1963, and the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, which killed four young black girls, in 1964. She expressed her anger and sorrow through her music, writing songs like "Mississippi Goddam", "Old Jim Crow", and "Four Women". She also participated in marches, rallies, and concerts to support the civil rights movement. She befriended and collaborated with other prominent activists like Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, James Baldwin, and Langston Hughes.

Nina's personal life and relationships

Nina's personal life was complicated and turbulent. She married twice, first to Don Ross, a police officer and musician, in 1958, and then to Andrew Stroud, a former cop and manager, in 1961. She had one daughter, Lisa Celeste Stroud, born in 1962. Both marriages were abusive and ended in divorce. Nina also had several affairs with men and women, including Lorraine Hansberry, a playwright and activist, and Al Schackman, her longtime guitarist and friend. She struggled with depression, bipolar disorder, and alcoholism. She often felt lonely, isolated, and misunderstood.

The Later Years

Nina's decline and exile

Nina's career declined in the late 1960s and early 1970s, due to several factors. She faced backlash from the music industry and the public for her outspokenness and radicalism. She also had conflicts with her record labels over creative control and royalties. She became disillusioned with America and its politics, and decided to leave the country in 1970. She lived in various places like Barbados, Liberia, Switzerland, France, and the Netherlands. She recorded sporadically and performed occasionally, but mostly stayed away from the spotlight.

Nina's comeback and legacy

Nina made a comeback in the mid-1980s, thanks to a resurgence of interest in her music and persona. She recorded new albums like Fodder on My Wings (1982), Nina's Back! (1985), (1993). She also performed at major events like the Montreux Jazz Festival, the Glastonbury Festival, and Nelson Mandela's 70th birthday concert. She received several honors and awards, such as a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, an honorary degree from the Curtis Institute of Music, and induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She also inspired many artists across genres and generations, such as Aretha Franklin, Lauryn Hill, Alicia Keys, John Legend, and Kanye West. Nina's death and tributes

Nina died on April 21, 2003, at the age of 70, in her home in Carry-le-Rouet, France. She had been suffering from breast cancer for several years. She was cremated and her ashes were scattered in several African countries. She was mourned by her family, friends, fans, and admirers around the world. She was also celebrated by various tributes and documentaries, such as Nina Simone: Four Women (2016), a musical play by Christina Ham; What Happened, Miss Simone? (2015), a biographical film by Liz Garbus; and I Put A Spell On You (2016), a tribute album by Meshell Ndegeocello.


I Put A Spell On You is a captivating and compelling autobiography of Nina Simone, one of the most extraordinary and influential artists of all time. It tells the story of her life from her humble beginnings in North Carolina to her global fame and acclaim. It reveals her struggles and triumphs, her joys and sorrows, her music and activism. It also shows us her humanity and vulnerability, her strength and spirit, her beauty and grace. It is a book that will enchant and enlighten you, and make you appreciate her legacy even more.


Here are some frequently asked questions about the book:

  • Q: How can I get a pdf file of the book for free?

  • A: You can download a pdf file of the book for free from this link:

  • Q: How accurate is the book?

  • A: The book is based on Nina's own memories and perspectives, which may not always be accurate or objective. Some details may be exaggerated or omitted. Some dates may be wrong or inconsistent. Some names may be changed or misspelled. However, the book still gives us a valuable insight into her personality and experiences.

  • Q: What are some other books about Nina Simone?

  • A: Some other books about Nina Simone are Princess Noire: The Tumultuous Reign of Nina Simone by Nadine Cohodas; Nina Simone: The Biography by David Brun-Lambert; To Be Young, Gifted and Black: An Informal Autobiography by Lorraine Hansberry with an introduction by Nina Simone; and Break Down & Let It All Out: The Essential Nina Simone Companion by Sylvia Hampton and David Nathan.

  • Q: What are some of Nina Simone's best songs?

  • A: Some of Nina Simone's best songs are "Feeling Good", "Sinnerman", "My Baby Just Cares for Me", "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood", "I Put A Spell On You", "Ain't Got No/I Got Life", "Strange Fruit", "To Be Young, Gifted and Black", "I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free", and "Here Comes the Sun".

  • Q: Where can I watch or listen to Nina Simone's performances?

  • A: You can watch or listen to Nina Simone's performances on various platforms such as YouTube, Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, and PBS.



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