Nina Simone Performs Six Songs in 1968 TV Special, The Sound of Soul

On September 14, 1968, Granada Television broadcast The Sound of Soul, an intimate studio concert in London by the jazz pianist and singer Nina Simone.

Most of the program can be seen in the 22-minute video above. Simone’s choice of material is characteristically eclectic. There is a two-song medley from the musical Hair (“Aint Got No/I Got Life”), a blues with lyrics written for her by the poet Langston Hughes (“Backlash Blues”), a pop song made famous by the Animals (“Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”) and a song written by her bassist, Gene Taylor, in reaction to the assassination of Martin Luther King, titled “Why? (The King of Love is Dead).”

Midway through, Simone changes into an African robe and headdress. She is accompanied by Taylor on bass, her younger brother Sam Waymon on organ, vocals and percussion, Henry Young on guitar and Buck Clarke on drums.  The original broadcast reportedly included an encore with one of Simone’s signature songs,  “Mississippi Goddam,” but that has been cut in this video. Here is what’s on it:

  1. “Go to Hell” by Morris Bailey, Jr.
  2. “Ain’t Got No/I Got Life” by Galt MacDermot, James Rado and Gerome Ragni
  3. “Backlash Blues” by Nina Simone and Langston Hughes
  4. “I Put a Spell on You” by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins
  5. “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” by Bennie Benjamin, Gloria Caldwell and Sol Marcus
  6. “Why? (The King of Love is Dead)” by Gene Taylor

Related content:

Nina Simone Sings Her Breakthrough Song, ‘I Loves You Porgy,’ in 1962

Nina Simone Sings of Social Injustice in a 1965 Dutch Television Broadcast

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  • Seth Harwood says:

    They’ll go to hell? Eeps! That’s some RELIGION!

  • Neil Mincey says:

    Yes, but by the end of the song, the message has become something like, you make your own hell right here on earth.

    And thanks for putting this up, open culture…. It is fantastic!

  • danskeBank says:

    It seems that it was an even longer show?

  • anne says:

    I was in the audience for this concert – first time I have seen it and myself there. I remember she sang Mississippi Goddam which has not survived to this recording. There were some celebrities in the audience including The Real Thing and I think Van Morrison. It was unforgettable and Nina Simone was mesmerisingly brilliant.

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