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- This article is about the song. There is also a play by this title.
"To Be Young, Gifted and Black" is a song by Nina Simone with lyrics by Weldon Irvine. It was written in memory of Simone's late friend Lorraine Hansberry, author of the play Raisin in the Sun. The song was originally recorded and released by Simone in 1969, with the song featuring in her 1970 album Black Gold, and was a Civil Rights anthem. Released as a single, it became a Top Ten R&B hit, peaking at number eight and number 76 on the Hot 100
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) and Bob and Marcia (whose 1970 recording reached Number 5 in the UK Singles Chart and Number 15 in Ireland). The 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" prior to his solo success. Intended to be released as a low budget sound-alike version of the original, it was later reissued on the compilation album Covers as Sung by Elton John.
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" and Faith Evans' 2014 single "I Deserve It", featuring Missy Elliott and Sharaya J.