An Artist’s Duty With Nina Simone

Our Monday Motivation this week comes from the words of iconic musician and activist Nina Simone paired with this picture of her performance in the Hilton Hotel Ballroom captured by Pittsburgh-based photographer Charles “Teenie” Harris.

A black and white photo depicts a double-exposure of a woman performing on stage, playing a piano with a microphone in front of her. A guitar player is behind her, partly obscured. A stage light throws a shadow from the performers onto a heavy curtain.
Charles “Teenie” Harris, Double Exposure of Nina Simone On Piano, And Guitar Player, Performing on Stage of Hilton Hotel Ballroom, December 1968-January 1969, Carnegie Museum of Art

“An artist’s duty, as far as I’m concerned, is to reflect the times. I think that is true of painters, sculptors, poets, musicians. As far as I’m concerned, it’s their choice, but I CHOOSE to reflect the times and situations in which I find myself. That, to me, is my duty. And at this crucial time in our lives, when everything is so desperate, when every day is a matter of survival, I don’t think you can help but be involved. Young people, black and white, know this. That’s why they’re so involved in politics. We will shape and mold this country or it will not be molded and shaped at all anymore. So I don’t think you have a choice. How can you be an artist and NOT reflect the times? That to me is the definition of an artist.” —Nina Simone

Nina Simone, An Artist’s Duty With Nina Simone