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Nina Simone (1933–2003) was one of the most influential jazz singers and songwriters of all time.

Growing up in poverty in North Carolina, she started playing the piano at a young age and was able to enroll in New York’s Juilliard School of Music. Working at a nightclub, she started singing to her own piano playing. Between 1958 and 1974, she recorded more than 40 albums that masterfully blended jazz with elements of pop, gospel, classical, folk and blues. Famous for her dramatic contralto voice, she influenced countless artists through her music and her engaged activism in the civil rights era.