( ENSPIRE Music ) “You’ve Got to Learn”, Recorded at the 1966 Newport Jazz Festival, was Released in Honor of Nina Simone and Her 90th Birthday
ENSPIRE Contributor: Wesley Tran
2023 marks a year-long celebration of music icon Nina Simone and her 90th birthday. Verve Records and UMe are honoring her by releasing three albums to celebrate. First on the list is a new greatest hits album, Great Women of Song: Nina Simone with stunning immersive Dolby Atmos mixes of her entire UMG catalog. Second, is a live album, “You’ve Got to Learn“, which was recorded at the 1966 Newport Jazz Festival and will be released on July 21. The album includes Nina’s “Blues for Mama” available now! Finally, an audiophile-grade vinyl pressing of Wild Is The Wind and much more to be announced throughout 2023.
The “Happy Birthday, Miss Simone” campaign invites the world to celebrate Simone’s renowned career and lasting impact across music, fashion, culture, politics, and more. Nina Simone was a consummate musical storyteller who used her remarkable talent to create a legacy of liberation, empowerment, passion, and love through a magnificent body of works. Born Eunice Kathleen Waymon, she was raised in the church on the straight and narrow. Her parents taught her right from wrong, to carry herself with dignity, and to work hard. When she died on April 21, 2003, she left a timeless treasure trove of musical magic.
This treasure spanned over four decades from her first hit in 1959, “I Loves You Porgy,” to “A Single Woman,” a title cut from her only 1993 Elektra album. While thirty-three years separate those recordings, the element of honest emotion is the glue that binds the two together. It is that approach to every piece of work that became Nina’s uncompromising musical trademark.
“And now we’re going to do a gutbucket blues,” Simone said in an evocative spoken introduction to “Blues for Mama,” which can be heard on the whole album. “It is so because of its background. There’s an old porch, and there’s an old man, and there’s a beat-up guitar and a broken bottle. There are flies all around, there are molasses all around, and he is composing this tune on a hot afternoon. Abbey Lincoln wrote the lyrics, and I wrote the music. It will appeal to a certain type of woman who’s had this kind of experience.”
On July 2, 1966, the Newport Jazz Festival witnessed a legendary six-song set by Nina Simone that has remained etched in the memory of music aficionados for over half a century. Now, a previously unknown and unreleased recording of the unforgettable concert is available for the world to hear. The newly released recording captures the essence of Simone’s performance at the festival, showcasing her incredible vocal range and her unparalleled ability to connect with her audience. Listening to this recording, it’s easy to understand why hearing Nina Simone in concert a once-in-a-lifetime experience was.
In her autobiography, Nina Simone writes that her function as an artist is “…to make people feel on a deep level. It’s difficult to describe because it’s not something you can analyze; to get near what it’s about you have to play it. And when you’ve caught it, when you’ve got the audience hooked, you always know because it’s like electricity hanging in the air.” The release of the recording is a momentous occasion for music lovers and fans of Nina Simone worldwide. It is a rare opportunity to experience the electricity from one of the most exceptional performers of the 20th century.
To save or listen to “You’ve Got to Learn,” click here or listen to “Blues for the Mama,” below.
To learn more about Nina Simone, check out her website!