Nina Simone: I Loves You Porgy
I Loves You Porgy
Nina Simone (vocals, piano)
Little Girl Blue (Neon NE 34541)
Composed by George & Ira Gershwin.
Recorded: New York, 1957
Rating: 95/100 (learn more)
Nina Simone, photo by Herb Snitzer
Nina Simone's first hit coincided with a full-blown 1958 fad for Porgy and Bess, including a Broadway revival and numerous jazz versions, most notably by Miles Davis & Gil Evans. This track, however, in the aftermath of the Montgomery bus boycott and Little Rock desegregation crisis, carried a special subtext. Whereas Bess in the original 1935 libretto begs Porgy to rescue her from a pimp, Simone transfigures an individualized black-on-black threat into a universalized saga of Black Woman exploited by (if you listen between the lines) White Man. Even Billie Holiday's 1948 model lacked the shivers of this somber drama.
Reviewer: Alan Kurtz