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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 April, 2003, 16:18 GMT 17:18 UK
Jazz legend Simone dies
Simone was best known for My Baby Just Cares For Me
Legendary jazz and blues singer Nina Simone has died at the age of 70 at her home in southern France, her agent has announced.

Simone was one of the last divas of jazz and was considered one of the finest songwriters and musicians of her day.

In 1959 she released her first single, Gershwin's I Loves You Porgy. It was an instant hit and was soon followed by the famed My Baby Just Cares For Me.

The song was re-released some 30 years later, bringing her to a new generation of listeners, and it became one of the most listened to songs of the 20th century.

Soul singer India Arie paid her homage in an e-mail to the Associated Press: "She was ahead of her time as a concert-level piano player who sang, wrote and spoke her mind. I aspire to be more like her."

'Ill for some time'

At the height of her fame she was closely associated with the black civil rights movement, connected with both the radical black playwright Lorraine Hansberry and the controversial Malcolm X.

"It is with great regret and sadness that we announce the death of the legendary jazz singer, the great Nina Simone, who died this morning at her home," her manager Clifton Henderson said.

"Nina Simone has not been feeling very well for quite a while," he added, without giving further details.

Mr Henderson, who was at Simone's bedside at her death, said she died of "natural causes" in her sleep.

Born in North Carolina and raised in a family of seven children, Simone studied piano at New York's prestigious Juilliard School of Music, a rare opportunity for a black woman in the 1950s.

She later changed her name from Eunice Wayman, releasing her first single as Nina Simone in 1959.

She lived variously in Barbados, Switzerland, France, Liberia, Trinidad and Britain, before moving to the south of France eight years ago.

When she died she had been living in the Mediterranean town of Carry-le-Rouet just outside Marseille.

Her last public performance was last July in Poland.

Simone was twice married and divorced, and is survived by one daughter, Lisa Celeste Shroud - who is now known simply as Simone.

She will be cremated on Friday, with her daughter - who has been appearing in the New York stage production of Aida - flying to Carry-le-Rouet's Roman Catholic church to lead mourners.

Pete King, owner of Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club
"As a performer, she was incredible"


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