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

Here’s an aching­ly beau­ti­ful 1962 per­for­mance by Nina Simone of the song that start­ed her career: “I Loves You Por­gy,” from the 1935 George Gersh­win opera Por­gy and Bess. The per­for­mance begins with Simone’s own plain­tive ver­sion of the calls of the Straw­ber­ry Woman and the Crab Man from Act II:

They’re so soft and fine
And they’re just off the vine

I’m talkin’ about the food I sell
I’m talkin’ about my dev­il crabs
Dev­il crabs

She then tran­si­tions into “I Loves You Por­gy,” with lyrics by Ira Gersh­win. The song was writ­ten as a duet, but was lat­er per­formed solo by a num­ber of artists, includ­ing Bil­lie Hol­i­day. Simone record­ed it in Decem­ber of 1957, when she was 24 years old. It was released the fol­low­ing year on her debut album Lit­tle Girl Blue. At the time, she was still hop­ing for a career as a clas­si­cal pianist. “I Loves You Por­gy” was a big suc­cess for the young Simone–the only top 40 hit she would ever have– and it helped chart the course of her career as a blues and jazz musi­cian with strong clas­si­cal influ­ences.

Relat­ed con­tent:

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

Ella Fitzger­ald Sings ‘Sum­mer­time’ by George Gersh­win, Berlin 1968

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Comments (7)
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  • I sang this song to my son Ryan so many time when he was a baby. The first words he spoke, no more Porky mom­my. I still smile, I wish, I had the chance to see the play, I loves you Nina.

  • Joyce Burse says:

    Her songs got me through so rough times with Can­cer she kept me smil­ing

  • Miss Nina’s voice is so sooth­ing to me. So deeply soul­ful. She com­forts me in dif­fi­cult times. I only wish I had got­ten to see her live. Your songs live on, Nina Simone!!

  • Quincy says:

    Me gus­taría comen­tar en este lugar como mues­tra de sin­cero agradec­imien­to

  • Mark says:

    What a beau­ti­ful, and haunt­ing song… she makes tears flow. Talk about soul!! RIP sweet Miss Nina.

  • Donna Whitley says:

    A voice so beau­ti­ful and expres­sive any­thing Nina tack­led would be memo­r­i­al . RIP.

  • Cris says:

    It’s as if I’ve dis­cov­ered some­thing new for the first time. She has touched my heart and made my soul ache. What a jew­el she was. Had I been for­tu­nate to meet and love her, I would have held her gen­tle soul close to my heart. I would have been her Por­gy. She will live on for­ev­er as more and more of us come to know her through her music for the first time. I love you Nina Simone. Rest in peace.

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