To Be Young, Gifted and Black
|"To Be Young, Gifted and Black"|
|Song by Nina Simone|
|from the album Black Gold|
|Recorded||October 26, 1969|
|Venue||Philharmonic Hall, New York City|
|"Nina Simone - To Be Young, Gifted and Black (Audio)" on YouTube|
"To Be Young, Gifted and Black" is a song by Nina Simone with lyrics by Weldon Irvine. She introduced the song on August 17, 1969, to a crowd of 50,000 at the Harlem Cultural Festival, captured on broadcast video tape and released in 2021 as the documentary film Summer of Soul. Two months later, she recorded the song as part of her concert at Philharmonic Hall, a performance that resulted in her live album Black Gold (1970). Released as a single, it peaked at number 8 on the R&B chart and number 76 on the Hot 100 in January 1970.
Notable cover versions of the song were recorded by:
- Donny Hathaway (on his 1970 album Everything Is Everything),
- Aretha Franklin (on her 1972 album Young, Gifted and Black)
- Bob and Marcia (whose 1970 recording reached number 5 in the UK Singles Chart and number 15 in Ireland).
- Jamaican rocksteady/reggae trio the Heptones recorded a version for Coxsone Dodd's Studio One label in 1970.
- Elton John recorded a version of "To Be Young, Gifted and Black" in 1970, before his solo success. Intended to be released as a low-budget sound-alike version of the original, it was reissued in 1994 on the compilation album Covers as Sung by Elton John.
- American singer Meshell Ndegeocello included a version on her 2012 tribute album Pour une Âme Souveraine: A Dedication to Nina Simone.
- Simone sang it to a group of children on the PBS TV series Sesame Street on February 18, 1972.
- The song is played in the closing scene of the first season of the 2021 horror drama Them (2021 TV series)
- The song has also become a popular sample amongst various modern R&B/hip-hop pieces, including Rah Digga's 2003 unreleased record "On the Move", Faith Evans' 2014 single "I Deserve It", featuring Missy Elliott and Sharaya J, and on the title track of Rapsody's 2017 album Laila's Wisdom.
- Ryan, Patrick. "Sundance 2021: Questlove takes us to forgotten 'Black Woodstock' in joyous concert doc 'Summer of Soul'". USA TODAY.
- Obenson, Tambay (January 29, 2021). "'Summer of Soul' Review: Questlove's Directorial Debut Captures the Legacy of Forgotten 'Black Woodstock'".
- "Nina Simone". Billboard.
- Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 528.
- "Songs of Black Lives Matter: Nina Simone, "To Be Young, Gifted and Black"". SoulMusic.
- "Nina Simone's 'Lovely, Precious Dream' For Black Children". www.wbur.org.
- "Nina Simone's 'Lovely, Precious Dream' For Black Children". NPR.org.
- "Chadwick Boseman shines a light on Nina Simone's 'To Be Young, Gifted and Black'". Los Angeles Times. January 28, 2019.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 67. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- "Nina Simone at Sesame Street". YouTube. 18 February 1972. Retrieved 2020-03-27.