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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