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Matron Saint of the Unsung

Artist: Jeffrey Wilsor

Nina Simone
Born: Eunice Kathleen Waylon, February 21, 1933
Died: April 21, 2003
Occupation: Musician

Nina Simone is known for her fiery protest music, interpreting and writing dozens of songs on the subjects of racial equality and civil rights. She was active in protests, marches, and riots from a young age, even before her career took off. She used her rising fame to amplify her social passion. A gifted pianist who trained classically, she employed a fusion of musical styles to create her own sound; classical music, African Spirituals, early R&B and jazz became her vehicle to deliver messages of anger, hope, sorrow, freedom, and longing.

In homage to her use of such a wide array of musical styles, I chose to depict Nina using several media and textures. Her figure is based on a photograph of her performing in the 1960s. Hanging from the tree is a crucifix, representative of the “Strange Fruit” about which Nina sang: the myriad black lives lost to lynching in America.

- Jeffrey Wilsor

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