Nina Simone Performs "Mississippi Goddam" at Carnegie Hall
Date: May 17, 1964
"This is a showtune, but the show hasn't been written for it yet," Nina Simone said sardonically during her iconic Carnegie Hall performance of "Mississippi Goddam." Her voice laden with irony, Simone sang to a breezily boyant accompaniment, a biting response to the murder of Medgar Evers in June of 1963, as well as a more generalized critique of racism in the South. The upbeat tenor of the music contrasted dramatically with the song's dark lyrics. "I think every day's gonna be my last," sings Simone fatalistically, before making a direct indictment: "Oh but this whole country is full of lies / and you're all going to die and die like flies." The song would ultimately be banned in several Southern states; Simone was unbowed, although she would later claim to Jet magazine that "Mississippi Goddam" did damage to her career, and that the industry had "put a boycott" on her records.