By Elizabeth Doyle
Kazi Nazrul Islam – He was a Bangladeshi poet who believed strongly in a spiritual revolution against all oppression. He lived in India, and was often imprisoned there, under British rule for … basically being a nuisance. But he worked all his life for justice for other people of every race and both genders. And he was so prolific both as a poet and as a songwriter that people will never run out of his songs to cover. Here is one, sung by Anup Jalota. Click here.
Edith Piaf – Many people thought of her as the voice of World War II. She had a very vagabond childhood, born in France to parents who seemed to have passed her off from one relative to the next, and even left her, according to rumor, to be raised by a brothel for a short time. Her wild street life is what got her involved in the performing arts. And sadly, it’s probably also the reason she didn’t make it to 50. But she truly became an international superstar, and her unmistakable, vibrating voice was hugely popular among Allied troops fighting Germany during the war. Sometimes, I have trouble hearing what endeared her so much to people (I’ve spent some time with a few of her albums, though, in hopes of “getting it”!) But maybe you’ll hear what I can’t quite. Certainly, her music does transport me back in time: Click here.
Nina Simone – This is a classic song that everybody should hear (as performed by Nina Simone) at least once. Nina Simone was an African American who often lived in Barbados, and was inspired early in life by the classical composer J.S. Bach, before using her classical music expertise to create jazz. Though it’s haunting from the very beginning, you sort of have to get to the very end of the song to appreciate the incredible soul of her voice, and her ingenious use of melody: Click here.
Top photo: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons / Kazi Nazrul Islam in 1920
Second photo: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons / Edith Piaf in 1951
Third photo: Roland Godefroy / Wikimedia Commons /Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported / Nina Simone in 1982