Thursday, March 25, 1999 Published at 09:56 GMT
Putting music first
Tim Sebastian talks to Nina Simone
Jazz legend Nina Simone has admitted she once pulled a gun on a record company boss who refused to pay her royalties.
"There was a record company that stole my albums and didn't pay me and they came to Switzerland and I said, 'Where's my money?' and they said, 'We're not going to give you any money,' and I said, 'Oh yes, you are.'
The incident happened about 14 years ago and since then Nina Simone has found a lawyer and uses more conventional means to do business.
But she is still not a woman to mess with and claims the FBI have a file on her over her activist links with civil rights leader Martin Luther King, assassinated in 1968.
She told HARDtalk's Tim Sebastian she longs to find a husband, but music has always been her first passion. She has been married twice and said, "'The music got in the way".
And she admitted men were often intimidated by her.
"I refuse to cook or to clean," she said. "They've got to take me as I am and recognise I'm a star as well as a woman.
"And they have to deal with the two."
Nina Simone first became famous in the sixties, but made a come-back in the eighties and remains popular worldwide. She spoke to HARDtalk while touring the UK.
"No way I am ever going to go back there and live," she said. "You get racism crossing the street, it's in the very fabric of American society."
Racism has been a theme throughout Nina Simone's singing career ever since she first experienced prejudice at a piano recital at the age of 12. She trained as classical pianist and wanted to be the first black concert pianist but instead became known for her protest songs and jazz and blues hits.
"To move the audience to make them conscious of what has been done to my people around the world," she said.
Nina Simone said she likes to be in control of her audience and revealed her number one rule when on stage.
"I have to be composed, I have to be poised, I have to remember what my first piano teacher told me: 'You do not touch that piano until you are ready and until they are ready to listen to you.
"You just make them wait," she said.
And to hear what Nina Simone has to say in full, watch HARDtalk at the times shown below.
BBC World (times shown in GMT)
News 24 (times shown in GMT)
TV and Radio