Comments on Nina Simone by William Jefferson Clinton
Published 8:58 pm Thursday, February 25, 2010
(photo gallery included; photos by Mara Smith) Following are comments by William Jefferson Clinton on February 17, 2010
Warm greetings to everyone gathered in Tryon, North Carolina, for the dedication of the Nina Simone sculpture.
People from every nation and background recognize the power of music to inspire our imaginations, to uplift our spirits, and to challenge our assumptions. Nina Simone did all these things, and did them masterfully. Her music was a truly American art form, defying easy categorization and blending the musical styles of jazz, blues, gospel, classical and folk. Her beautiful and unique voice brought these traditions together effortlessly, and the emotion with which she sang them brought them to life for fans across the country and around the globe.
Yet as devoted as the woman known as the High Priestess of Soul was to her music, she was equally devoted to civil rights. One of my favorite songs is her rendition of “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free,” which reflects both of those passions beautifully. May all who visit this sculpture, standing in the small town where she was born, find inspiration in her fine legacy.
Many thanks to the men and women of the Nina Simone Project, who spearheaded the effort to build this sculpture, and to the artist Zenos Frudakis who brought it to reality. Best wishes to all for a memorable ceremony.