Hearing Nina Simone’s recording of “Feeling Good” again on the soundtrack for the show Six Feet Under (Six Feet Under, Vol. 2: Everything Ends) sparked my curiosity. Her voice is hardly that of a typical soul songstress such as Aretha Franklin or Gladys Knight. It has the power of a soul singer behind it, but there is also a bluesy melancholy and subtleness to it that sets her apart. Sometimes known as the High Priestess of Soul, she was not only a singer but also a songwriter, pianist, arranger and civil rights activist.
Fortunately Michael Buble hasn’t been the only artist influenced by Ms. Simone lately. The lesser-known Nina Simone song “Sea Lion Woman” appears on Feist’s most recent album The Reminder. Only Feist doesn’t just cover the track, she re-interprets it. Modernizing the song by adding an electric guitar, some pulse driving claps, along with a break that insists you get out of your chair and MOVE; the song starts to resemble something of an anthem for the independent woman of the 21st century.
Another great Nina Simone discovery has been the album Remixed and Reimagined. It features some classic standards with Nina Simone on vocals and various DJs creating a new way of listening to a unique voice. One track that particularly stands out is the song “Funkier Than a Mosquito’s Tweeter.” You can feel the influence of James Brown-style funk and soul, the occasional appearance of a modern hip hop downbeat along with the sass that drips from Nina Simone’s voice makes this track particularly interesting. Another track worth experiencing is “Here Comes the Sun.” Given a light, ethereal remix you can almost picture yourself walking in a park on a sunny day, or dancing in the middle of a crowded floor with this pouring out of the speakers. As for the last track on the album, I just won’t even spoil it. You have to listen for yourself.