40 Best Nina Simone Songs (The Legend Slot)

40 Best Nina Simone Songs (The Legend Slot) - Female Original

The Legend Slot is officially back! After starting the year with a mini break from working on this series, I’m fully back on board. But…with a *slightly* new approach to how I’m doing things. If you’ve followed along with The Legend Slot so far then you’ll know that it’s an ongoing blog series where I listen to all of the studio albums of a specific iconic musician or band in one month. Then I’ll put together a playlist of the songs that I thought were their best. As well as this I write about the artist(s) and give an insight into what some of my favourite songs of theirs were along the way.

Moving into this year’s posts, most of the original format is staying exactly the same. However, instead of the time constraint of listening to all of the albums in one month, I’m giving myself between one and two months to get the listening done. I wanted to give myself a chance to listen to the albums a few times, and really think about the songs that I was picking for the series. And I think that the deadline of sharing a new artist every month meant that it was really hard to get everything done. So, I’m adapting this new approach of listening to this year’s Legend Slot posts, and we’ll see where it takes us.

For the thirteenth post in The Legend Slot I’ve chosen classical, jazz and blues legend Nina Simone. I listened to ALL of her studio albums and picked out 40 of the best Nina Simone songs. If you’re new to the series then you can head on back to artist number 1 here and work your way through.

I Put A Spell On You (1965) album cover - 40 Best Nina Simone Songs (The Legend Slot) - Female Original

‘I Put A Spell On You’ (1965) – Nina Simone.

Nina Simone: A Brief History

Born in Tyron, North Carolina in 1933, Nina Simone (born Eunice Kathleen Waymon) was an American singer, songwriter and musician known for her work across music genres including classic, jazz, blues, folk and gospel. Having spent her youth playing in her local church before then moving to teaching music to local students, it wasn’t until she auditioned to perform at the Midtown Bar & Grill in Atlantic City in 1954 that her career began. A few years later she caught the attention of a music producer and went on to record her first album (released in 1959).

Over the course of her six decade-long career, Nina Simone received a number of awards and recognitions. In 2000 she received a Grammy Hall of Fame Award, as well as a total of four Grammy Award nominations (two of which were received posthumously). She was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2018. As well as her career in music, Nina Simone also was very involved in civil rights activism.

Wild Is The Wind (1966) album cover - 40 Best Nina Simone Songs (The Legend Slot) - Female Original

‘Wild Is The Wind Title’ (1966) – Nina Simone.

In 2003, Nina Simone sadly passed away after several years of battling breast cancer. Two days before her death, she found out that she was to be awarded an honorary degree from the Curtis Institute of Music (who had previously refused to admit her as a student back in her early career). If you want to learn a little bit more about Nina Simone you can check out her full biography here.

40 Best Nina Simone Songs (The Legend Slot): The Playlist

A Few Of My Favourites…

So…let’s talk favourites. First up I’ve chosen Baltimore from the album Baltimore (1978). It’s a song that I only really discovered around a year ago and I actually ended up featuring it in my walking playlist. Fun fact, it was written by Randy Newman (yep, Toy Story’s You’ve Got A Friend In Me writer Randy Newman). Another favourite, which has also been featured on here before, is Strange Fruit from Pastel Blues (1965). If you know your music samples then you’ll know that this was sampled in Kanye West’s Blood On The Leaves. I just couldn’t not feature it, it’s such a brilliant tune.

Silk & Soul (1967) album cover - 40 Best Nina Simone Songs (The Legend Slot) - Female Original

‘Silk & Soul’ (1967) – Nina Simone.

Of course the likes of ‘My Baby Just Cares For Me’ from Little Girl Blue (1959) , ‘I Put A Spell On You’ and ‘Feeling Good’ both from I Put A Spell On You (1965) and ‘I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free’ from Silk & Soul (1967) are favourites too. But, I mean, surely they’re everyone’s favourites right? They’re the ultimate Nina Simone tunes.

New Discoveries

My knowledge of Nina Simone’s music was probably fairly similar to that of my knowledge of Prince’s going into this post. I pretty much only knew her biggest hits and a couple of other slightly less big hits. So when it came to new discoveries there were plenty of them for sure. And it didn’t take long for me to come across some new tunes that quickly turned into new favourites. The first few came from her first album Little Girl Blue (1959) and they were ‘He Needs Me‘ and ‘I Loves You, Porgy‘.

He Needs Me’ was actually originally from the soundtrack of the 1955 musical-crime film Pete Kelly’s Blues. And it was performed by Peggy Lee who also starred in the film. ‘I Loves You, Porgy’ was, again, a song that originally came from elsewhere. However, in this case it came from the 1935 opera Porgy and Bess which featured music and lyrics by George and Ira Gershwin.

Little Girl Blue (1959) album cover - 40 Best Nina Simone Songs (The Legend Slot) - Female Original

‘Little Girl Blue’ (1959) – Nina Simone.

Some of my other new discoveries were ‘You’ve Got To Learn‘ from I Put A Spell On You (1965) and ‘Lilac Wine‘ from Wild Is The Wind (1966). As I’ve said, there were absolutely loads of new tracks this time but these two were the ones that stood out to me the most. If you’re going to listen to one of the four that I’ve featured then I’d definitely say make it ‘He Needs Me’.

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And that’s Nina Simone. It feels good to have this series back on track with a new approach. Hopefully you’re excited to see its return! Have you listened to much of Nina Simone’s music before? Which tracks of hers are your favourites? Make sure to let me know in the comments. AND if you have any suggestions for the series then go ahead and comment them too. I want to know who you think is Legend Slot worthy.

Female Original

Some other legends that you need to check out: Elton John and Aretha Franklin.

*Photography taken from Discogs.

38 Comments

  1. Katie
    March 20, 2021

    I Put A Spell On You and Feeling Good are such good songs, but there are some other gems in there!

    Katie | katieemmabeauty.com

    Reply
    1. femaleoriginal
      March 21, 2021

      Agreed! Glad you enjoyed the playlist 🙂 x

      Reply
  2. Fisayo
    March 20, 2021

    Oh wow thanks for this and I love the song I put a spell on you is one of my fave song of all time

    Reply
    1. femaleoriginal
      March 28, 2021

      Glad you enjoyed reading! I Put A Spell On You is such a great tune 🙂 x

      Reply
  3. Simona
    March 20, 2021

    I didn’t know about this series of yours and can I just say how excited it makes me?! I need to get back and check the previous ones! I know a few songs from Nina Simone, but I would say I knew nothing of her story or why she started – so thank you so much for sharing! I’ll go catch up with the rest of the serie! xx

    Reply
    1. femaleoriginal
      March 21, 2021

      Ahh thank you so much – glad you like the sound of the series! I hope you enjoyed learning a bit more about her 🙂 x

      Reply
  4. Jaya Avendel
    March 20, 2021

    Scrolling through the playlist you have curated I am already in love with the story told by the titles alone, so I look forward to listening to the music! I love that you are constantly on the hunt for the history and music of powerful songwriters; I had not heard of Nina Simone until now. Thanks so much for sharing!

    Reply
    1. femaleoriginal
      March 26, 2021

      Ahh thank you so much! Oh wow – you’re going to enjoy discovering her music for the first time then 🙂 x

      Reply
  5. Sophie
    March 21, 2021

    I’m slightly ashamed to say that Nina Simone is someone I know very little about and only really know the huge songs that everyone knows. I need to give your playlist a listen x

    Reply
    1. femaleoriginal
      March 26, 2021

      Definitely isn’t something to be ashamed of! That’s the whole point of this series after all – to discover new music! I hope you enjoy giving her music a listen 🙂 x

      Reply
  6. Wow! Nina Simone sounds like an amazing person and artiste. Unfortunately, this is the first time I am hearing about her and I have never listened to any of her songs before either. I will definitely check her out! I know Elton John and his songs are just wonderful!!

    Reply
    1. femaleoriginal
      March 28, 2021

      Hopefully you’ll enjoy learning all about her and her music! 🙂 x

      Reply
  7. Lucy
    March 21, 2021

    I Put A Spell On You is such a classic song and I love Nina Simone singing it! x

    Lucy | http://www.lucymary.co.uk

    Reply
    1. femaleoriginal
      March 21, 2021

      It’s such a great song! x

      Reply
  8. Melissa
    March 21, 2021

    I absolutely love your Legend Slot series! I didn’t know much about Nina Simone before reading this, but now I definitely want to check out some of her music. Thank you for sharing this!

    Reply
    1. femaleoriginal
      March 21, 2021

      Aw thank you so much! I hope you enjoy exploring some of her music 🙂 x

      Reply
  9. Natasha Evans
    March 21, 2021

    Sadly I haven’t listened to any Nina Simone songs so I can’t comment my thoughts on any of her songs but I’m going to give her a listen!

    Tash – A Girl with a View

    Reply
    1. femaleoriginal
      March 28, 2021

      I hope you enjoying giving her music a listen! x

      Reply
  10. Anika
    March 21, 2021

    Love that this series has returned and great choice! I absolutely love Nina Simone’s music, forever timeless and forever classic.

    Anika | chaptersofmay.com

    Reply
    1. femaleoriginal
      March 26, 2021

      Aw thanks so much! Agreed – I loved getting to properly listen to all of her music for this 🙂 x

      Reply
  11. Lovely
    March 22, 2021

    I didn’t know Nina Simone before but I’m glad I did. Thanks for the list!
    xoxo
    Lovely
    http://www.mynameislovely.com

    Reply
    1. femaleoriginal
      March 28, 2021

      Glad you enjoyed learning more about her! x

      Reply
  12. Lynn Mejia
    March 22, 2021

    Ooh! Loved this. I’ve heard of Nina Simone’s Feeling Good and I Put A Spell On You but not the other songs! I’ll give them a quick run through and see what I can add to my playlists! Thanks for sharing xx

    Lynn | http://www.lynnmumbingmejia.com

    Reply
    1. femaleoriginal
      March 28, 2021

      Thank you! Both of them are great songs! I hope you enjoy discovering some new tunes 🙂 x

      Reply
  13. Lauren Kenny
    March 22, 2021

    I haven’t really listened to much of Nina Simone so it was cool to read about her and her music. Will check out some albums after this 🙂

    Reply
    1. femaleoriginal
      March 22, 2021

      I hope you enjoy discovering more of her music! 🙂 x

      Reply
  14. Eleanor Jones
    March 22, 2021

    Nina Simone’s music is amazing! I love I Wish I Could Know How It Feels to Be Free, as it is so touching and so true to Nina’s own life (and the life of many other people of colour and women throughout history/now). Thank you for sharing this playlist, I love Nina but I’ve found a few recommendations from you x

    Reply
    1. femaleoriginal
      March 31, 2021

      Yes I completely agree! Her music is still so relevant now and it still sounds absolutely incredible. So glad you enjoyed reading! 🙂 x

      Reply
  15. bournemouthgirl
    March 24, 2021

    I don’t think I have heard of these before. Thank you for sharing some of your playlists.

    Reply
    1. femaleoriginal
      March 25, 2021

      I hope you enjoy discovering some new music! x

      Reply
  16. Macey @ Brine & Books
    March 25, 2021

    other than sinnerman (BANGER), i haven’t listened to very much nina simone! i’ve definitely heard some of her stuff on curated playlists, but have never listened to her properly myself. this was such a fantastic reminder to do so!! i love that you’re taking longer to listen to the records; that’s not only gonna make it easier on you, but it’s definitely gonna show in these posts xx

    Reply
    1. femaleoriginal
      March 31, 2021

      Hahah, agreed – sinnerman is an absolute BANGER! Great to hear that you’re on board with my idea of taking a little bit longer to listen to each artist for this series 🙂 x

      Reply
  17. Daniela
    March 30, 2021

    To be honest, I didn’t know who Nina Simone was til now. Thank you so much for sharing these songs! I’ll check them out!

    Reply
    1. femaleoriginal
      March 31, 2021

      Oooh, I hope you enjoy learning a bit about her then! 🙂 x

      Reply
  18. Caroline
    June 24, 2021

    I hadn’t really heard of Nina Simone before! Thank you for sharing <3

    Reply
    1. femaleoriginal
      July 11, 2021

      I hope you enjoyed learning a bit about her and her music! 🙂 x

      Reply
  19. Brianna Stryker
    June 25, 2021

    This is a great blog post idea since it can help people find new music. I have never heard of Nine Simone before this so I truly appreciate you taking the time to put this together. I will definitely be checking out some of her songs. Thanks for sharing!

    Brianna – http://www.briannastrykerwrites.com

    Reply
    1. femaleoriginal
      July 11, 2021

      Ahh thank you so much! I hope you enjoy learning a bit more about her and her incredible music 🙂 x

      Reply

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