As the “high priestess of soul”, Nina Simone was a talented artist who wasn’t afraid to use her voice, whether as a civil rights activist or a chart-topping musician. Today, we have curated these Nina Simone quotes to help you learn more about her journey to stardom.
What’s your favorite Nina Simone song?
Simone’s fascination with music began at age 3, where she began playing the piano. As an adult, Simone released her debut studio album Little Girl Blue in 1959.
Simone released dozens of albums throughout her music career, with popular songs such as “I Put a Spell On You”, “To Be Young, Gifted, and Black” and “Feeling Good”.
In 2019, Simone’s civil rights anthem “Mississippi Goddam” was preserved by the Library of Congress to protect its cultural significance.
To learn more about the amazing life of Miss Simone, check out the quotes below.
Also check out these Stevie Wonder quotes from the iconic soul artist.
Nina Simone quotes about love
1. “I would like a man now who is rich, and who can give me a boat – a sailboat. I want to own it and let him pay for it. My first love is the sea and water, not music. Music is second.” – Nina Simone
2. “I flirt all the time. I like men! I don’t think we can do without them.” – Nina Simone
3. “For my love is like the wind, and wild is the wind.” – Nina Simone, “Wild is the Wind”
4. “You have to learn to get up from the table when love is no longer being served.” – Nina Simone
5. “I drink much more that I ought to drink because it brings me back you.” – Nina Simone, “Lilac Wine”
6. “You don’t know what it’s like to love somebody the way I love you.” – Nina Simone, “To Love Somebody”
7. “What is love but a prelude to sorrow…with heartache ahead for your goal.” – Nina Simone
Powerful Nina Simone quotes
8. “I’ll tell you what freedom is to me: no fear.” – Nina Simone
9. “To me, we are the most beautiful creatures in the whole world. Black people. And I mean that in every sense.” – Nina Simone
10. “I know I’m different, but I don’t think about it.” – Nina Simone
11. “Life is short. People are not easy to know. They’re not easy to know, so if you don’t tell them how you feel, you’re not going to get anywhere, I feel.” – Nina Simone
12. “There’s no excuse for the young people not knowing who the heroes and heroines are or were” – Nina Simone
13. “Having as little to do with human beings as possible – in some weird way, I’m at peace.” – Nina Simone
14. “But oh, I’m just a soul whose intentions are good. Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood.” – Nina Simone, “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”
15. “I’m a real rebel with a cause.” – Nina Simone
16. “I believe in racial memory too. I’m sure I’ve got ancient African blood in me that has something to do with what I am.” – Nina Simone
17. “It’s a good time for black people to be alive.” – Nina Simone
18. “That is why we fly from the inner void, since God might steal into it. It is not the pursuit of pleasure and the aversion for effort which causes sin, but fear of God. We know that we cannot see him face to face without dying, and we do not want to die.” – Nina Simone
Nina Simone quotes about music and career
19. “I don’t like rap music at all. I don’t think it’s music. It’s just a beat and rapping.” – Nina Simone
20. “To most white people, jazz means black and jazz means dirt, and that’s not what I play. I play black classical music.” – Nina Simone
21. “It’s an artist’s duty to reflect the times in which we live.” – Nina Simone
22. “I didn’t get interested in music. It was a gift from God.” – Nina Simone
23. “Anything human can be felt through music, which means that there is no limit to the creating that can be done with music. You can take the same phrase from any song and cut it up so many different ways – it’s infinite. It’s like God… you know?” – Nina Simone
24. “I want to shake people up so bad, that when they leave a nightclub where I’ve performed, I just want them to be to pieces.” – Nina Simone
25. “It is difficult to retain your standards with the pressure of trying to make money, which always has its rules…It’s hard to walk the tightrope of doing what you think is your best and making money at it.” – Nina Simone
26. “When I’m on that stage, I assume honor. I assume compensation, and I should.” – Nina Simone
27. “My people have very subtle slang, inflections and ways of saying things that has little to do with words. If you’re from the same place, you’ll feel the jargon and know exactly what’s happening. Same with any neighborhood cat. What he sees and hears and feels and lives makes him what he is. That’s what blues is.” – Nina Simone
28. “Music is as close to God as I know.” – Nina Simone
29. “What I was interested in was conveying an emotional message, which means using everything you’ve got inside you sometimes to barely make a note, or if you have to strain to sing, you sing.” – Nina Simone
30. “Sometimes I sound like gravel, and sometimes I sound like coffee and cream.” – Nina Simone
31. “The pressure of show business is on all the time and show business is a fickle business. Whatever is popular now – that’s all that counts. I have to constantly re-identify myself to myself, reactivate my own standards, my own convictions about what I’m doing and why.” – Nina Simone
32. “Talent is a burden not a joy. I am not of this planet. I do not come from you. I am not like you.” – Nina Simone
33. “Music is an art and art has its own rules. And one of them is that you must pay more attention to it than anything else in the world, if you are going to be true to yourself. And if you don’t do it – and you are an artist – it punishes you.” – Nina Simone
34. “I think that the artists who don’t get involved in preaching messages probably are happier – but you see, I have to live with Nina, and that is very difficult.” – Nina Simone
35. “As a political weapon, it has helped me for 30 years defend the rights of American blacks and third-world people all over the world, to defend them with protest songs. To move the audience to make them conscious of what has been done to my people around the world.” – Nina Simone
Nina Simone quotes about upbringing
36. “When I was studying… there weren’t any black concert pianists. My choices were intuitive, and I had the technique to do it. People have heard my music and heard the classic in it, so I have become known as a black classical pianist.” – Nina Simone
37. “Once I understood Bach’s music, I wanted to be a concert pianist. Bach made me dedicate my life to music, and it was that teacher who introduced me to his world.” – Nina Simone
38. “I had spent many years pursuing excellence because that is what classical music is all about… Now it was dedicated to freedom, and that was far more important.” – Nina Simone
39. “I wasn’t a jazz player, but a classical musician, and I improvised arrangements of popular songs using classical motifs.” – Nina Simone
40. “Everything that happened to me as a child involved music. It was part of everyday life, as automatic as breathing.” – Nina Simone
Nina Simone quotes about society
41. “I think the rich are too rich and the poor are too poor. I don’t think the black people are going to rise at all; I think most of them are going to die.” – Nina Simone
42. “Greed has driven the world crazy.” – Nina Simone
43. “Slavery has never been abolished from America’s way of thinking.” – Nina Simone
44. “You don’t have to live next to me. Just give me my equality.” – Nina Simone, “Mississippi Goddam”
45. “Desegregation is a joke.” – Nina Simone
46. “The worst thing about that kind of prejudice… is that while you feel hurt and angry and all the rest of it, it feeds you self-doubt. You start thinking, perhaps I am not good enough.” – Nina Simone
47. “At this crucial time in our lives, when everything is so desperate, when every day is a matter of survival, I don’t think you can help but be involved.” – Nina Simone
48. “You get racism crossing the street; it’s in the very fabric of American society.” – Nina Simone
49. “This is the world you have made yourself, now you have to live in it.” – Nina Simone
50. “We have ordered things so long in a certain way, we are numb. Nobody dares question it. This is what is wrong, symbolically, with America.” – Nina Simone
Have you ever used your talents to make a difference?
One of Nina Simone’s most popular songs, “Mississippi Goddam” was made in direct response to the murder of civil rights activist Medgar Evers and the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church.
Simone performed the song for a crowd of 10,000 people celebrating the end of a five-day march from Selma, Alabama to Montgomery, Alabama, forever embedding it into the soundtrack of the civil rights movement.
Remember you have the power to make a difference within your community. Whether you are a great writer, public speaker, or web designer, there are so many ways you can use your strengths to help causes you are passionate about.
Which of these Nina Simone quotes and sayings can’t get out of your head? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.