Nina Simone

Playlist: The Very Best of Nina Simone

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Nina Simone's versatile blend of jazz, pop, soul, R&B, and folk made her one of the most versatile popular singers of the 20th century, and her often confrontational, suffer-no-fools approach to her audience also made her one of the most politically honest and genuine, and there's a fierce and defiant dignity to her best work. This 14-track set (there's a 15th CD-ROM track as well) has most of her key and signature sides, including her fine version of George Gershwin's "I Loves You, Porgy," her civil rights anthems "Mississippi Goddam" and "To Be Young, Gifted and Black," and delicately balanced risqué material like "I Want a Little Sugar in My Bowl," and it shows the range of her talent and her impressive ability to make it all perfectly fit with her stance and image. There is at least one obvious omission, though, the jazzy folk "See Line Woman," but other than that, this makes for a pretty good quick introduction to the commercial high points of Simone's career.

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