Rare and obscure
Nina Simone, born Eunice Kathleen Waymon, was a popular American singer, songwriter, musician and activist during the 20th century. She was known for playing a variety of genres, including pop, classical, jazz and R&B, to name a few. Simone discovered her passion for music and piano at an early age and hoped to one day be a concert pianist. Eventually, she went on to study at Julliard and later began making a living as a nightclub pianist and singer, prompting her name change. Over her long career, Simone ended up recording over 40 albums. One of her later works, Fodder On My Wings, was an album that was a bit more personal and philosophic, in a way. It was also a rare find and hard to get your hands on until the reissue this year.
The album opens a slightly surprising note with track “I Sing Just to Know That I’m Alive” and it’s a lively island-infused tune. Simone also gets a bit repetitive in the lyrics, almost chanting “Trindad, 1981” throughout the song, just adding to the island element. Simone has a few songs in French on the project, including “Il y a un baume à Gilead” the French translation to her song “Balm in Gilead.” The song’s reggae vibes paired with the French language give it quite the twist.
Listeners also get some short and sweet songs like “Color Is A Beautiful Thing” which is essentially just Simone singing “Color is a beautiful thing/ I know, I know” over and over for a minute to a folky country melody, setting it apart from the rest of the project. On a song like “Heaven Belongs to You,” Simone taps into her African roots and shares that the upbeat prayer-like song was actually sung to her by her father. There can also be chanting in an African dialect heard in the background of the song.
“Fodder On My Wings,” the album’s namesake, is instrumental for the greater part of the song and blends together the Calypso sounds found throughout the record and Simone’s signature jazzy piano music.
If listeners are a longtime Nina Simone fan just wanting to hear more of her beautiful and deep timbre, a music history buff or someone who’s just curious to hear some of her rarer, more obscure songs, then Fodder On My Wings is the perfect project to listen to.