Nina Simone’s 1966 Newport Jazz Festival Set Now Available via Live Album

Fans now get to hear Nina Simone’s revered set at the 1966 Newport Jazz Festival. On Friday (July 21) Verve Records released You’ve Got To Learn, a six-song album containing live recordings of Simone’s legendary set at the historic festival.

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The album is named after the only known recording of the song “You’ve Got to Learn,” along with the first recording of “Music For Lovers” and “Blues For Mama.” It also features a swing-style recording of her famous protest anthem, “Mississippi Goddam,” that she released in 1964 after the murders of Emmett Till and Medgar Evers in Mississippi and the bombing of 16th Street Baptist Church in Alabama. The live version at Newport also finds Simone improvising a line about the Watts riots in Los Angeles in 1965.

[RELATED: Top 10 Nina Simone Songs]

The recordings of Simone at the Newport Festival were donated to the Library of Congress by Newport Jazz Festival Founder George Wein and given to Verve Records by author and Simone historian Nadine Cohodas. “On July 2, 1966, the Newport Jazz Festival witnessed a legendary set by Simone that has remained etched in the memory of Nina fans and music aficionados alike for over half a century,” as stated in a press release.

The album also features “I Loves You, Porgy,” a song originally recorded for the opera Porgy and Bess that Simone popularized with her recording from her 1959 debut album, Little Girl Blue. This served as her first hit song that reached the Top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100.

You’ve Got to Learn was released as part of the “Happy Birthday, Miss Simone” campaign in honor of what would have been Simone’s 90th birthday this year. Simone also had hits with “Trouble in My Mind,” “Feeling Good” and “To Be Young, Gifted and Black,” to name a few. She passed away in April 2003 at the age of 70 at her home in France after battling breast cancer.

Newport Folk Festival 2023 takes place July 28-30 in Newport, Rhode Island.

You’ve Got To Learn Track List:

  1. “You’ve Got To Learn” 
  2. “I Loves You, Porgy” 
  3. “Blues For Mama” 
  4. “Be My Husband” 
  5. “Mississippi Goddam” 
  6. “Music For Lovers” 

Photo by Tom Copi/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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