In 1964, Nina Simone embarked on new stage of her career. Her rejection by the Philadelphia-based Curtis Institute Of Music; time spent as a pianist in an Atlantic City nightclub; her jazz, gospel, pop and classical influences – all these had fused to make her one of the most complex, fascinating and talented artists of the decade. Simone released her debut album in 1958, but when she signed to Philips, in 1964, her creative output was about to dovetail with the Civil Rights movement – notably coinciding with the Civil Rights Act Of 1964, which outlawed discrimination based on race, color, gender, religious affiliation or nationality.
In Simone's hands, "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" was as much a demand as it was a plea, and on I Put A Spell On You she continued to record songs with a deep personal resonance. Her version of the title track remains as mesmerizing as its name suggests, while covers of Charles Aznavour's "Tomorrow Is My Turn" and Jacques Brel's "Ne Me Quitte Pas" are equally strong declarations. Meanwhile, Simone once again turned to musical theatre for "Feeling Good" (lifted from the 1964 stage show The Roar Of The Greasepaint – The Smell Of The Crowd), instantly owning the song with her definitive version. Artists as varied as Billy Paul, Muse and Michael Bublé have since covered it, but none with as much dedication – and spine-tingling effect – as Simone.