Student Showcase: Nina Simone—The Life, Legacy, and Activism of the High Priestess of Soul

gabby meeks explores the life and work of nina simone through historical inquiry and cultural criticism.

Gabby Meeks, “Nina Simone: The Life, Legacy, and Activism of the High Priestess of Soul”

Professor Kramer’s comments:

“Where’s my tambourine,” Nina Simone joked as she introduced “Little Liza Jane” at the 1960 Newport Jazz Festival. “This is a folk tune,” she explained. In Digitizing Folk Music History this term, we pushed at assumptions at who counts and who does not as a “folk revival” musician. Simone, who defied categories of all sorts, caught the attention of student Gabby Meeks, who delves into Simone’s life and work through a series of intertwining digital mini-essays on topics ranging from Simone’s political activism to recent biopics and documentaries about the singer. The result is a historically informed approach to cultural criticism with personal voice intact.

Most intriguing, to me, is Gabby’s use of animated gifs. How might these become a tool for new modes of digital storytelling when it comes to historical topics? Gabby’s experiments help us think more deeply not only about Simone’s continued impact on listeners, but also about how one might convey that impact online more dynamically.

Gabby Meeks, “Nina Simone: The Life, Legacy, and Activism of the High Priestess of Soul”

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