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Intro

It was 1966, and Nina Simone was angry. 

Frustrated at the slow progress of the civil rights movement, the negative self-image of many women around her, and the daily hardships of being a black woman, the brilliant piano-playing songstress penned "Four Women," a song that tells four stories of archetypal black women: Aunt Sarah, Saffronia, Sweet Thing and Peaches. 

Each has a different skin tone and each lives at a different point in history. The song's spitting tone gives you the feeling that it's burning at both ends, the work of a woman who is fed up with history—but what does "Four Women" tell us about the present?

About the Song

ArtistNina Simone Musician(s)Nina Simone (vocals, piano)
AlbumWild Is The Wind
Year1966
LabelPhilips
Writer(s)Nina Simone
Producer(s)Hal Mooney
Buy this song: Amazon iTunes Try Listen and Learn (BETA)

Shmoop Connections

Explore the ways this song connects with the world and with other topics on Shmoop
Nina Simone's searing track "Four Women" traces a long history of race and gender oppression in just a few short verses. It begins under the cruel hand of slavery and the politics of antebellum America, and extends to the great unleashing of pent-up anger that was a part of the civil rights movement.

Simone herself was all about expressing anger: when she had a political awakening in the early 1960s (see "Sinnerman" for that story), Simone was overflowing with frustration about the conditions she had seen and experienced as a black woman. What do her heartfelt expressions of anger mean today? Have they become more or less relevant? Shmoop looked to rapper Talib Kweli to help us sort it all out.

On the Charts

Although "Four Women" did not chart, Wild Is the Wind crept onto the albums charts, peaking at #110 on the Billboard 200 and #12 on the R&B Albums chart.

Nina Simone was named #29 in Rolling Stone's list of the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time in 2008, ranking just before Prince and just after Janis Joplin.
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