Still Relevant: Jazmine Sullivan Covers Nina Simone’s “Baltimore”

May 5, 2015  |  

 

If you think 2015 is the first time the citizens of the city of Baltimore have risen up, think again. From the end of World War II and 1968 the Black citizens have Baltimore had suffered. There was a serious case of “White flight,” and the city, where many of the Black residents remained, was depleted. Black communities, much like today, had subpar housing, high infant mortality rates, fewer jobs and thus, more crime. Black Baltimore unemployment, at the time, was more than double the national average. Those who were employed worked in unsafe conditions or were paid less.

Then on April 4, 1968, there was an injustice much like the death of Freddie Gray. Dr. King was assassinated. During the memorial there was peace and then the rage set in. Windows were broken, fires were started. Police and the national guard moved in. By the end six people had died, 700 were injured, 1000 small businesses were damaged or robbed and 5,800 people were arrested.

The uprising inspired Nina Simone to return after a four-year recording hiatus to release the 1978 album Baltimore. 

For those who are unfamiliar with the song, Simone says,

The city is dying 

And they don’t know why

And then…

Oh, Baltimore

Ain’t it hard just to live 

A couple of weeks ago, we told you about the new Nina Simone documentary coming to Netflix and contemporary R&B vocalist Jazmine Sullivan is recording a cover of the original and there’s a video for her rendition that is quite poignant.

You can listen to Nina Simone’s original and watch and listen to Jazmine Sullivan’s beneath it. Both are sadly beautiful and extremely reflective of the times in which we live.

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