Little Girl Blue: A Sojourn to Nina Simone's Childhood Home
54 Halsey Street,2nd Floor
Newark, NJ 07102
In August 2018 photographer Scheherazade Tillet visited the childhood home of Nina Simone in Tryon, North Carolina. Born in 1933, Simone became an iconic jazz singer, arranger, composer, pianist and social activist. Tillet who is currently working on photography project on black girlhood went to the house with her sister, writer and RU-N professor Salamishah Tillet. The photographs will accompany Salamishah’s forthcoming book, “All the Rage: ‘Mississippi Goddamn’ and The World Nina Simone Made” which in her words is based on “Nina’s most explicitly political song, “Mississippi Goddam,” the civil-rights anthem which Simone composed in 1964 in response to the assassination of the civil-rights leader Medgar Evers in Mississippi and the murder of four African-American girls in a church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama, a year earlier.”
The Institute of Jazz Studies (IJS) came to Rutgers University-Newark in 1967 and is the foremost archive and research facility dedicated solely to jazz in the world. The Institute has a connection to Nina Simone through bassist and educator Chris White, best known for his work with trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie in the 1960s. Chris White recorded and toured with Nina Simone during the early 1960s and in the following decade served as the second executive director of the Institute of Jazz Studies.
Located in Dana Library at Rutgers University-Newark, the IJS has provided Tillet inspiration for this installation. Tillet was introduced to the Institute’s holdings via an archivist led tour and made subsequent visits to work with primary sources from archival collections and other library holdings such as monographs, sound recordings and periodicals.