Blackbird

Nina Simone was born in a poor family in 1933. Her real name was Eunice Kathleen Waymon. Her talent for music showed up in her childhood. However, Nina’s life was a witness to the fact that the music industry and the music market left no place for blacks to practice their art except in bars […]

Blackbird
Blackbird
  • Yayınlanma30 May 2023 10:04
  • Güncelleme30 May 2023 18:25

Nina Simone was born in a poor family in 1933. Her real name was Eunice Kathleen Waymon. Her talent for music showed up in her childhood. However, Nina’s life was a witness to the fact that the music industry and the music market left no place for blacks to practice their art except in bars and nightclubs. On the other side, the political situation forced the artists to involve in politics, who wanted to support the movements and struggles of blacks with their art. It also influenced their music in terms of style and content.

In the 1960s, civil rights movements were growing and spreading across the United States. Nina Simone became a member of the movement with her voice and music and took an active part in it. In June 1963, one of the leaders of the movement, Medgar Evers, was assassinated. A few months later, a bomb exploded in a Baptist Church in Alabama, four black girls were killed and the fifth was blinded. Nina wrote her first protest song called Mississippi Goddam about those events. The song was banned and Nina Simone was targeted by the state authorise. The American music industry also put many obstacles for the publication of her albums and prevent her songs from being broadcast on the radio and did not allow her influence to increase throughout her life. 

Nina Simone’s life and political experiences raised her awareness concerning the tragedy of black people, especially the tragedy of black women. In 1963, Nina Simone sang a song named Blackbird. The only musical instruments in the song was a bongo, a type of African drum. Bongos and Nina Simone’s voice were origion in Africa that were forcibly uprooted and brought to America as slaves. They were witnesses to the sadness and suffering of this migration, statelessness, and slavery.

Nina Simone learned that the way was closed of after many tragic experiences of black people. Especially for black women there was no way out of whites heaven except murder and plunder. Women were victims of the centuries-old system of slavery more than anyone. Therefore, Nina focused more on the tragedy of black women in her songs. In the songs Four Women and Blackbird directly addressed this tragedy. In the song Four Women, whose lyrics and music were written by her. She links cruelty and plunder with four stereotypes produced about black women. In this song, the colonial and patriarchal system is well portrayed in how they helped each other to exploit labor of women and dishonor them. Black women has been exposed to class, gender, and race-based discrimination and explotiation. In the voice of Simone, the Blackbird was a crying and a yelling about the fate and suffering of Black women. The Blackbird as an anthem of Black women [1], became a symbol of their pain and suffering, and more than that, it became a symbol of the brutality of the colonial system that ruled over them for hundreds of years.

Nina Simone, the Blackbird whose flight was hampered, folded her wings in her dream in 2003 and flew freely into the sky of death. After the funeral ceremony, her ash spread over several African countries. Like a cloud of ash, she returned to the countries from which it had been taken as a slave. Simone is an African story of phenix. At the end of her flight, she turned into ash, and rained down on her country from the sky. From her ash and that of bird like her, thousands of birds gather, rise, and try to fly into the dark skies.

Blackbird

Why you wanna fly Blackbird, you ain’t ever gonna fly

No place big enough for holding, all the tears you’re gonna cry

Cause your mama’s name was lonely, and your daddy’s name was pain

And he called you little sorrow, cus you’ll never love again

Why you wanna fly Blackbird, you ain’t ever gonna fly

You ain’t go no one to hold you, you ain’t got no one to care

If you’d only understand dear, nobody wants you anywhere

So why you wanna fly Blackbird, you ain’t ever gonna fly

Bibliography

Black Bird, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=139fXzrRjyc

Nina Simone’s Blackbird: “An Anthem for the Struggle&Pain of a Black Woman” https://blackthen.com/nina-simones-blackbird-the-struggle-pain-of-a-black-woman/

This news was translated by Yonca Sarsilmaz