Mississippi Goddam’: Portrait of Nina Simone, 2005, 38″ x 57″, mixed media on canvas

This portrait is inspired by Simone’s powerful song of the same name, Mississippi Goddam’. It has been displayed on stage a number of times when jazz singer Kim Nalley has sung the Nina Simone songbook. The most recent occasion was on March 3rd, 2017, at the Freight & Salvage in Berkeley, California. here are some photos from that show.


A little dancing with Kim during one number!


This photo shows Kim singing Nina Simone in front of my portrait of Simone at Kim’s former club in North Beach, Jazz at Pearl’s, in 2008.

The song Mississippi Goddam was written by Simone in response to the violence against blacks in the civil rights era, including the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing (the four girls killed are shown on the left of the painting) and the killing of civil rights worker Medgar Evers (shown in the top right of the painting), both crimes referred to in the song.

The song’s lyrics are:

The name of this tune is Mississippi Goddam
And I mean every word of it

Alabama’s gotten me so upset
Tennessee made me lose my rest
And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

Alabama’s gotten me so upset
Tennessee made me lose my rest
And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

Can’t you see it
Can’t you feel it
It’s all in the air
I can’t stand the pressure much longer
Somebody say a prayer

Alabama’s gotten me so upset
Tennessee made me lose my rest
And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

This is a show tune
But the show hasn’t been written for it, yet

Hound dogs on my trail
School children sitting in jail
Black cat cross my path
I think every day’s gonna be my last

Lord have mercy on this land of mine
We all gonna get it in due time
I don’t belong here
I don’t belong there
I’ve even stopped believing in prayer

Don’t tell me
I tell you
Me and my people just about due
I’ve been there so I know
They keep on saying ‘Go slow!’

But that’s just the trouble
‘Do it slow’
Washing the windows
‘Do it slow’
Picking the cotton
‘Do it slow’
You’re just plain rotten
‘Do it slow’
You’re too damn lazy
‘Do it slow’
The thinking’s crazy
‘Do it slow’
Where am I going
What am I doing
I don’t know
I don’t know

Just try to do your very best
Stand up be counted with all the rest
For everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

I made you thought I was kiddin’

Picket lines
School boy cots
They try to say it’s a communist plot
All I want is equality
For my sister my brother my people and me

Yes you lied to me all these years
You told me to wash and clean my ears
And talk real fine just like a lady
And you’d stop calling me Sister Sadie

Oh but this whole country is full of lies
You’re all gonna die and die like flies
I don’t trust you any more
You keep on saying ‘Go slow!’
‘Go slow!’

But that’s just the trouble
‘Do it slow’
Desegregation
‘Do it slow’
Mass participation
‘Do it slow’
Reunification
‘Do it slow’
Do things gradually
‘Do it slow’
But bring more tragedy
‘Do it slow’
Why don’t you see it
Why don’t you feel it
I don’t know
I don’t know

You don’t have to live next to me
Just give me my equality
Everybody knows about Mississippi
Everybody knows about Alabama
Everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

Written by Nina Simone • Copyright © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc

I have been asked about fine art reproductions of this painting, Mississippi Goddam’: Portrait of Nina Simone. An inkjet print reproduction on cqnvas at approximately 24″ high is $250. Email me at jeremy@jeremysutton.com if interested.

Another painting I made that was inspired by the music of Nina Simone was this one, Feeling Good:


Feeling Good, 2006, 38″ x 57″, mixed media on canvas

This painting, Feeling Good, is based on a moment in a dance that Myrna performed to the haunting song of the same name by Nina Simone. Simone’s face appears woven into the fabric of the painting, as do the words and musical score to “Feeling Good” (reproduced below).

This painting, along with the portrait of Simone shown above, were featured in The Nina Simone Experience art exhibit at Space Atlanta, Atlanta, GA, April 2010.

Words to “Feeling Good”. By Anthony Newley, Leslie Bricusse

Birds flying high you know how I feel
Sun in the sky you know how I feel
Reeds driftin’ on by you know how I feel

(refrain:)
It’s a new dawn
It’s a new day
It’s a new life
For me
And I’m feeling good

Fish in the sea you know how I feel
River running free you know how I feel
Blossom in the tree you know how I feel

(refrain)

Dragonfly out in the sun you know what I mean, don’t you know
Butterflies all havin’ fun you know what I mean
Sleep in peace when day is done
That’s what I mean

And this old world is a new world
And a bold world
For me

Stars when you shine you know how I feel
Scent of the pine you know how I feel
Oh freedom is mine
And I know how I feel

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