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Nina Simone: The Biography Paperback – 25 Feb 2010

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Nina Simone: The Biography + I Put A Spell On You: The Autobiography of Nina Simone + 7 Classic Albums [Audio CD] Nina Simone
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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Aurum Press Ltd (25 Feb. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1845135105
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845135102
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.9 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 336,244 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

"Highly recommended for jazz music lovers as well as those interested in the civil rights movement." "--Library Journal"

About the Author

David Brun-Lambert is a highly regarded French writer, journalist and radio producer. He is author of Nina Simone: The Biography, and co-author with Laurent Garnier of Electrochoc, a history of electronic music.


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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 15 Mar. 2009
Format: Hardcover
I looked forward to the publication of this book to see if the definitive book about this icon was about to be published. Unfortunately it is a book of two halves.
Part one: dealing with her early life until the end of her RCA contract in 1974 is little more than a rehash of Nina's autobiography albeit with a tidying up of the dates and chronology of events; something which plagued the autobiography.
Part two: gives a pretty comprehensive view of the final 20 years of her life. Strangely enough the final decade is dealt with comprehensively and with passion.

The faults of the book are:
1) David Brun-Lambert recounts his story in a strangely detached fashion as though observing her life through binoculars. When you read the source notes - Chapters 1 to 10 are almost exclusively sourced from the Autobiography and Sylvia Hampton's "Break Down and let it all out" biography. Only chapters 11 & 12 dealing with the final 10 years of her life has original source material.
2) The research is flawed, I doubt that he contacted the surviving members of the Waymon family for their thoughts. Sam Waymon appears a sketchy figure yet played in her band during the 1960's and early 1970's yet just a few mentions. Andy Stroud was not sourced. Unsure if Lisa (Simone) Kelly was contacted.
3) His appreciation of her catalogue appeared shallow - aside from a glowing review of "Sinnerman". He mentions her "Single Woman" album but fails to mention that the expanded edition is now available. His commentary of the album (3 paragraphs leads me to think he may not have listened to it or least only in a cursory fashion.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Well researched book but desperately sad that she had such a difficult life. I am fed up with being asked for more words
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 6 reviews
26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Is this the definitive biography of Miss Simone? Afraid not! 26 July 2009
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I looked forward to the publication of this book to see if the definitive book about this icon was about to be published. Unfortunately it is a book of two halves.
Part one: dealing with her early life until the end of her RCA contract in 1974 is little more than a rehash of Nina's autobiography albeit with a tidying up of the dates and chronology of events; something which plagued the autobigraphy.
Part two: gives a pretty comprehensive view of the final 20 years of her life. Strangely enough the final decade is dealt with comprehensively and with passion.

The faults of the book are:
1) David Brun-Lambert recounts his story in a strangely detached fashion as though observing her life through binoculars. When you read the source notes - Chapters 1 to 10 are almost exclusively sourced from the Autobiography and Sylvia Hampton's "Break Down and let it all out" biography. Only chapters 11 & 12 dealing with the final 10 years of her life has original source material.
2) The research is flawed, I doubt that he contacted the surviving members of the Waymon family for their thoughts. Sam Waymon appears a sketchy figure yet played in her band during the 1960's and early 1970's yet just a few mentions. Andy Stroud was not sourced. Unsure if Lisa (Simone) Kelly was contacted.
3) His appreciation of her catalogue appeared shallow - aside from a glowing review of "Sinnerman". He mentions her "Single Woman" album but fails to mention that the expanded edition is now available. His commentary of the album (3 paragraphs leads me to think he may not have listened to it or least only in a cursory fashion.)
4) There is no discography/sessionography at the end of the book a really major ommission; especially in view of the fact new material on disc and dvd are being made available as we speak. Tantalisingly he mentions a catalogue of unreleased material that is held somewhere and may see release one day and then fails to give any information of when the material was recorded nor any details of the material! A cardinal ommission in my book. The only hint he gives is that someone has heard it and feels it matches anything recorded in the 1960's! Very frustrating.
5) I felt Sylvia Hampton's biography whilst severely flawed had passion about her subject matter something Mr Brun-Lambert lacks - his effort feels more like a workmanlike journalistic assignment.
6) There is a distinct paucity of photographs, 15 in total - 8 I have seen before. Surely that implies a lack of research!

To be fair there are some new insights, his coverage of her severe bipolar disorder is full frank and at last exposed with both candour and sympathy. We have to remember that genius and madness can be close bedfellows. Had Nina not had her condition she may not have scaled the heights she did.

I have always been puzzled by Nina's troubles with the IRS following her split with husband, Andy Stroud. We have no insights into this at all. Was he was a rogue or was it revenge? Where did all the money disappear to? Why did he vacate their marital home removing all his possessions and making himself completely unavailable to Nina? Since this was such a major factor in her fall from grace in the 1970's, why was this not put under the microscope?

One interesting factor is to view her Montreux 1976 dvd, in 1976 she was a deeply beautiful if troubled woman. The extras from the 1987 and 1990 concerts show a woman who aged rapidly, menapause perhaps? Her appearance at the Live at Ronnie Scotts 1984 performance show her still in full bloom. Comment is made how she put on weight in the final 10 years - I have a DVD of her 1997 performance in Sao Paulo and she has aged and put on weight but it seems more water retention, a side effect of her medication? No investigation is made of this factor.

Were it not for the final two chapters I would only have given the book two stars. Since the remainder of the book is basically a rehash of the autobiograhy and the Hampton biography.

Miles Davis has been graced with two outstanding biographies by Ian Carr and John Szwed. Nina has not been blessed with the same good fortune - so whilst an interesting read it cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, be viewed as the definitive work. For that, we will have to wait a little longer I guess.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
An insult to a great artist 24 Aug. 2009
By N. Lucero - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
A terribly organized, messy and inept work. The chronology is choppy. Miss Simone's transition from aspiring classical pianist to jazz star is brief and sketchy.
There are ridiculous factual errors (her rival, pianist Sarah Vaughan? PIANIST??) which prove the author knows little about jazz. Awful. Buy her records and let the music speak for itself. Too bad because she had an interesting life, but this book is ludicrous and doesn't do it justice.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Not THE Biography, I hope... 3 Aug. 2010
By Widsta - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Fair bio I suppose, if you knew nothing about Simone's life ( I didn't).

Author Brun-Lambert's colloquial English is serviceable, but often awkward and unclear (although I've read worse from native English writers). I'm wondering if many of his seemingly unsupported conclusions are because of the language gap, or sketchy research and poor observation (or both).

Example:
"...over the last few years of her life, she didn't play more than 15-20 times a year.

Paradoxically, Nina Simone was reaping honors and distinctions. On 19 July 1998 she was invited to the gala given in Johannesburg for Nelson Mandela's eightieth birthday..."

An aging artist with diminishing physical and emotional resources rarely performs, but reaps honor for her body of life's work. Why is that paradoxical? Off-kilter remarks like this are spread throughout the book as well as sketchy details of events that would seem to warrant more investigation (certain financial matters for example).

Still, some essence of Nina Simone does comes through, due more to Brun-Lambert's sincere affection for his subject which occasionally overcomes the clumsiness of his prose. And mostly due to the extraordinary life force of this immensely gifted, tragic, and tormented musician.
i love this bio of nina.. 20 Jan. 2014
By RUTH SHOCKLEY - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
it provided a wealthy context of the life of this artist. this book also gives interesting music history. thank you
Excellent. A must read 2 July 2010
By Bobba - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It is a great book. I have read them all and this one has also been purchased as gifts for friends
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