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Album Review: Mississippi Goddam (single)
Nina Simone
Cover image of the album Mississippi Goddam (single) by Nina Simone
Mississippi Goddam (single)
Nina Simone
2023 / Verve Records
7 minutes
Review by Steve Yip
The late jazz vocalist Nina Simone’s historic, earthshaking “Mississippi Goddam” has made a reappearance as a lyric video single on Youtube.com. Thanks to Verve Records for this gem as they announce a newly discovered live album You’ve Got To Learn -- recently excavated tracks of Nina Simone’s performance at the 1966 Newport Jazz Festival -- to be dropped July 21, 2023.

While we wait impatiently for this new Nina Simone album, it’s a moving gift with this pre-release of the lyric video of “Mississippi Goddam” from this historic performance (find it on Youtube.com here). This piece by Simone at the 1966 Newport Jazz Festival, and as usual at the keyboards, was delivered with emotion and conviction.

Nina Simone’s "Mississippi Goddam" delivered an impactful denunciation of the violent suppression of the civil rights movement as it referred to events taking place in Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and other Southern states where civil rights activists were met with brutal and savage violence by the white supremacist South. This song’s role galvanized many black, white and others to take on the Jim Crow South, and then later with the emergent black liberation movement where the status quo’s urging to “going slow” is forcefully decried.

This song was first released in 1964 where its declared:

Alabama's gotten me so upset
Tennessee made me lose my rest
And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

In this 1966 live version Simone shoehorns the new line “California made me lose my rest” -- a reference to the earth-shaking 1965 Watts Rebellion.

Nothing can be more timely to be introduced into our current domestic social climate than such a powerful sonic statement from Nina Simone. She has been a profoundly social and cultural force as this country transitioned into the Sixties infusing social justice and social revolution first with the confronting of the deeply rooted oppression of Black people with the struggle for equal and voting rights and the deeply racial oppression of the Jim Crow South which was watched closed around the world.

If there is any other cultural significance to the 1966 Newport Jazz Festival, it should also be noted that Nina Simone’s performance took place on the same day that the John Coltrane Quintet and many other music luminaries also performed that same Saturday. Suffice to also say that it was at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival that Bob Dylan rocked and shocked the folk music scene with his leap to electrified performance and frankly, helped to further disseminate music as socially compelling levers finding place and purpose in the era of the Sixties and Seventies.

You’ve Got To Learn is poised for release. It encompasses the tracks from her six-song set at the Newport Jazz Festival: “I Loves You, Porgy”, “Blues For Mama”, “Be My Husband”, “Mississippi Goddam”, and “Music For Lovers”. Let’s look forward to the full release of this recording as well as the liner notes to be offered by Shana L. Redmond, a scholar of Nina Simone’s life and work.
June 25, 2023
This review has been tagged as:
JazzSingle Release
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