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

3.96  ·  Rating Details  ·  853 Ratings  ·  77 Reviews
James Baldwin used to tell Nina Simone, "This is the world you have made for yourself, now you have to live in it." Simone has created for herself a world of magnificent peaks. Often compared to Billie Holiday and Edith Piaf, Simone is known as one of the greatest singers of her generation. She has recorded forty-three albums, ranging from blues to jazz to folk, and her hi ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published August 21st 1993 by Da Capo Press (first published 1991)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,998)
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Rowena
Mar 14, 2013 Rowena rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Nina Simone fans, those interested in the Civil Rights movement
"Unlike most artists I didn't care that much about a career as a popular singer. I was different- I was going to be a classical musician."

I've always been drawn to Nina Simone's soulful voice and her powerful lyrics in such songs as "Young, Gifted and Black" and "Ain't Got No..."I felt a little apprehensive about reading her biography because I guess it's human nature for people to idealize their heroes, and to think of them as flawless human beings.

The story begins with the background of her c
...more
Paul Bryant
NINA SIMONE - ANOTHER ONE I NEVER SAW LIVE

The accidental star, the reluctant creator of something new under the sun of popular music, something no one else did before or since (because not only did no one else think of it, if they'd thought of it they wouldn't have been able to do it, she wasn't jazz, wasn't soul, wasn't cabaret but all of that and everything else), at the age of 60 produced this short account of her strange life in such a way that even the crazy stuff sounds reasonable, and whi
...more
Ij
"Shimmy Shimmy Ya, Oh Baby I like it raw!!!" - ODB
Jamila
What a disappointment! I am grateful for learning about Nina Simone's childhood in North Carolina, her classical piano training, her desire to become a concert pianist, and the development of her political consciousness. However throughout most of the book, she describes her depression, failed marriages, physical abuse, many lovers, dependence on men, and family conflicts.

What this book lacks are detailed descriptions of her production, concerts, collaborations, covers and songwriting. Nina only
...more
L.A.
Mar 24, 2015 L.A. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Don't call her a jazz superstar. She hated that, being categorized as a jazz singer. What Nina Simone really wanted to be when she grew up was a classical concert pianist, and that's what she spent most of her childhood training for. In fact, her town raised enough money for her to study for one year at Julliard. But she was rejected from the Curtis School of Philadelphia, the premier classical school of the time, not because she wasn't good, but because she was black.

And so, determined to someh
...more
Fanababy
Sep 23, 2008 Fanababy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Fanababy by: Dad
Living is a gift, but can feel unbearable, loving is inevitable pain, and surviving to tell your story is a blessing. The right book at the right time, my dad snuck it into my suitcase when I left to go back to DC. How did he know that I needed that book in my life? Read it in one sitting.
Latiffany
May 30, 2012 Latiffany rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have been a fan of Nina Simone's music for the last five years or so. I was looking at pictures of her a few weeks ago and decided that I wanted to learn more about her life. This book was an excellent resource, because the information comes straight from her. Nina Simone led a full and interesting life. Like anyone else, she made her mistakes and experienced highs and lows.

Now, I must admit that there were a few scenes where I rolled my eyes, particularly when she speaks of not knowing anyth
...more
Dawn Lennon
Dec 13, 2014 Dawn Lennon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, music
So many iconic musicians struggle with achieving recognition first and then the pressures of fame. Nina Simone's story has that too, but it also included the Civil Rights Movement and her role as a protest singer and leader through her music and fame. It's a life that was borne from a legacy of slavery followed the prejudice of her own time that was part of her life but not the centerpiece of it growing up. But her struggles were uniquely hers, often shocking, inspiring, heartbreaking, and eleva ...more
Laurie
Wow. Her early adult years, tutoring so she could keep up the private study, the isolation, the summers of nightclub work; all of that was very interesting. Then the book delves deep, but somehow artificially at the same time, flying over the years and you know you're not getting the whole story, which is completely her prerogative. It became very uncomfortable to read, to say the least. I came away a bit perplexed, disturbed and just plain sad.
Leah
Feb 12, 2016 Leah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I still remember like it was yesterday the first time I heard Nina Simone: 1993, I was fifteen and watching the movie, Point of No Return. A mediocre film for which I'm thankful only because it introduced me to Nina's music. From that day on, I haven't made a feelings-based mix (yeah, I still make mix CDs) without at least one of her songs. There are few singers/musicians who evoke such pure connection like she does, for me. I'll always wish I could've attended one of her live performances.

Even
...more
David
Aug 12, 2015 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Looking out into the crowd, I heard Jimmy Baldwin's voice in my head, 'This is the world you have made for yourself, Nina, now you have to live in it.'"

This is a remarkable book that Nina Simone has written of her life. Up to now, I knew little about her - and I only ever had a single (though representative) recording of her singular artistry.

The book breaks down into 4 sections. She begins, naturally, with her upbringing, which - though certainly not easy - is not one of considerable turmoil.
...more
Michele
Nov 06, 2012 Michele rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music, memoirs
I wanted so much for Nina Simone to live up to the strong woman I had in mind. I had this spectrum in my head, with weak and susceptible songbird Billie Holiday on one end and strong, iconic Nina Simone on the other. Nina Simone who gave voice to a movement, who gave new life to African-American history through her music. Sadly, Nina seems much more a victim of circumstance than her songs let on.

The entire book shows her reacting to one situation after the other, even when she is held up as a ke
...more
Caroline
Nina Simone struck me as incredibly vain, arrogant, and prideful after reading this book. She discusses her many conquests, dancing naked, constantly saying how "cute" she looks, and being a mistress, rather shamelessly. She doesn't even seem like a responsible mother- there is one point she is off living the fabulous life in Africa (or was it some tropical island?) for a stretch of time, leaving her daughter with family. I don't expect everyone in the limelight to be the perfect role model, but ...more
Connie Ciampanelli
If I were allowed to keep only one CD from our vast and eclectic music collection, it would be Nina Simone’s Finest Hour.

Until our younger son gave me a mixed CD that included Simone’s “Lilac Wine,” I had unaccountably not heard of her. I immediately fell in love with her voice, her passion and emotion, her intensity and commitment, her wry humor.

I Put a Spell On You: The Autobiography of Nina Simone, written with Stephen Cleary, is a slim volume. At 176 pages, can Simone effectively tell her s
...more
Maya B
Dec 03, 2015 Maya B rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, jazz
Great read! after reading this I could tell Nina Simone was a no nonsense woman. she bares her soul to readers and does not hold back.
Melinda
May 13, 2014 Melinda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
Ms. Simone shares her memoir with the reader in a candid manner. She is open and honest with her rise and fall in both her professional and personal life.

Nina takes us from her childhood growing up during the Depression in North Carolina where she trained as a classical pianist with lessons funded by her community. After attending Juilliard on scholarship having been rejected by the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, she's employed as a nightclub entertainer, singing and accompanying herself whi
...more
Taylor
Nina Nina Nina. This was a really good book. I appreciate how candid she is in telling the story of her rise to international fame from her small town USA beginnings. Nina takes us from her childhood in the Depression era through her classical piano training, first appearances on the night club circuit, her period as a political activist and protest singer for the Civil Rights Movement of the 60's/70's and on to her disillusionment with the USA and self-imposed exile to Africa, Barbados and Swit ...more
Mike
Jul 05, 2012 Mike rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The thing about reading autobiographies of your musical heroes is that you've put them on a pedestal, so you're unprepared for reality. For the unsavory bits. That they're human. They screw up. They can be bitter, and self-absorbed. They fall out with members of their family. They have dodgy relationships with 70 year-old Liberian men. Etc.

Maybe this is a lesson in itself. Because Nina Simone sounds like an angel (albeit a feisty one) doesn't mean that she was one. If her autobiography doesn't m
...more
Fenesha
Jan 31, 2015 Fenesha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
Nina Simone was true to herself, honest with her life and desires, and a damn good storyteller. Living up to her numerology blueprint, she was a free spirited and daring woman who lived in extremes. Nina Simone was human, uninhibited and held on to her child-like nature. She fit Robert Greene's definition of the charismatic seductress (for fans, lovers and friends). Let go of your preconceived notions of her if you only know Nina Simone's music. We live in a world that holds entertainers on a pe ...more
fletch
Dec 21, 2007 fletch rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Who knew Nina Simone led such a crazy life?! The best anecdote in this book is this time that Nina invited Louis Farrakhan over to talk politics, but the more gin she drank, the more she got distracted by his apparently tiny feet. "Minister Farrakhan talked on into the small hours and I sat staring at his shoes, sipping my gin and wondering what he'd say if I invited him upstairs." So she does, and he turns her down and keeps talking politics. But after that night, he would send messages saying ...more
Laura
Feb 12, 2014 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If your looking for a book on the music of Nina Simone then this is not the one to choose. This is all about her personal life from her upbringing in the Depression in North Carolina, the rise and fall of her career and her politics. It is an extraordinary story, with elements that I found surprising. Nina was, understandably, an angry woman and before I read this I perceived her to be fiercely independent. She actually seemed to have a reliance on men and her relationships with them are intrigu ...more
jeremy
Nov 28, 2007 jeremy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music, memoir-bio
the finest female vocalist & pianist ever. her story, while not terribly well-written, is a remarkable one, and obviously a must-read for any fan. from north carolina to the city of brothery love to her final years in europe, nina's trials and tribulations (as if you couldn't already tell it from her inimitable singing style) were many, and never far from the forefront of her success. if you don't like nina simone, you don't like freedom.
Tierney
Mar 04, 2010 Tierney rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am a big fan of biographies. Especially autobiographies. It gives such insight to a person that you might know otherwise. I love Nina Simone's music and have always been intrigued by what little I knew about her. I downloaded the book to my kindle and was immediately sucked into her life. She is very straight-dorward and honest about how she saw her life. I recommend it to lovers of musicians and the crazy lives they lead.
beth
Mar 22, 2016 beth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
i read this awhile ago, but just remembered having read it. i don't recall if the writing was great, but i remember loving the autobiography...mostly 'cause i love all things nina. an amazing musician, woman, and life.
Cooper
Jul 13, 2013 Cooper rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Incredibly complex and interesting woman who was full of contradictions. Her early years she seems so self assured, not allowing any discrimination to define her or get in her way. As she matures, she seems to make poor decisions, especially in her business life, and when these poor choices result in poor outcomes, she blames everything and everyone but herself.

She becomes entitled and indignant if people didn't treat her as a diva, even though she states she didn't want any recognition. '...the
...more
Blair
Dec 18, 2013 Blair rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's insightful into Nina's own state of mind about who she was a musician, a black woman in the 60s, and a "liberated" woman at that. With autobiography, it's always important to understand that these are the pictures painted in the mind of the subject after the fact. We all attempt to contextualize our actions inside of some running narrative. Despite the probable "inaccuracy" of many events, it helps us to understand the subject better. Nina conveniently glosses over some places where she's u ...more
Brooke
Aug 01, 2015 Brooke rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An amazingly talented artist with a complex life. I watched, "What happened, Miss Simone?" too. I'm glad that her contribution to music and the Civil Rights Movement is being remembered and honored.
Tricia
Nov 14, 2008 Tricia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008
This is a fascinating autobiography of Nina Simone's life. Her story begins so differently than where she ends up, and she unapologetically lays it all out before us. I am amazed and awed in her honesty and true insight into her own life. She writes as if also interpreting it together with the reader, and does not pull punches or skitter around her philosophies. She has truly lived an extraordinary life - perhaps not the life she ever envisioned for herself, but one that she has no choice but to ...more
Marva
Aug 01, 2015 Marva rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've always had a huge crush on Nina Simone. I read this book as companion to watching the Netflix documentary, "What Happened, Miss Simone?" I remain in fascination of her life. Reading about her depression, her failed and tumultuous marriage, and the choices she made in her career left me with the thought that living is a gift that should never be taken for granted. Despite her challenges, Miss Nina remained free. In fact, she demanded her freedom. That is why I love her so.
Ileana
Jul 29, 2012 Ileana rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'm probably never going to finish this book, which is a shame because it's interesting-ish. A lot of the anecdotes are fascinating, or involve topics I'm curious about, namely Nina Simone's life and career, but for some reason, every time something comes up that sparks my curiosity, I think, "Now this is interesting! So why am I still bored?" To be fair, I don't read much autobiography, so it may be that I'm not familiar with the style, and that's why I'm not finding this engaging. Still, I was ...more
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50754
Eunice Kathleen Waymon, better known by her stage name Nina Simone, was a fifteen-time Grammy Award-nominated American singer, songwriter, pianist, arranger and civil rights activist.

Although she disliked being categorized, Simone is generally classified as a jazz musician. Simone originally aspired to become a classical pianist, but her work covers an eclectic variety of musical styles besides he
...more
More about Nina Simone...

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“What kept me sane was knowing that things would change, and it was a question of keeping myself together until they did.” 60 likes
“This is the world you have made yourself, now you have to live in it.” 20 likes
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