- Kalyna Katherine Lesyna
Simone was known to many as the High Priestess of Soul and the musical voice of the civil rights and Black Power movements in America. She was almost as well known for her feistiness, her outspokenness, and her uncompromising refusal to accept any disrespect from audiences as she was for her musical genius.
Nina Simone was born Eunice Kathleen Waymon in segregated Tryon, North Carolina, the sixth of eight children. Her father, John Divine Waymon, owned several successful small businesses that were destroyed by the economic ruin of the Great Depression. In the later years of Eunice’s childhood, Waymon’s near-fatal illness limited his ability to work full-time, but he did odd jobs to support the family. Eunice’s mother, Mary Kate Irvin Waymon became a Methodist minister soon after Eunice was born but the wages were meager and she was forced to work also as a housekeeper for ...
A version of this article originally appeared in Black Women in America, 2nd ed.