To Be Young, Gifted and Black

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"To Be Young, Gifted and Black"
Song by Nina Simone
from the album Black Gold
RecordedOctober 26, 1969
Venue Philharmonic Hall, New York City
Genre Soul, blues
Label RCA
Composer(s) Nina Simone
Lyricist(s) Weldon Irvine
Producer(s) Stroud Productions
Official audio
"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 . [1] [2] 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. [3] A cover version by Jamaican duo Bob and Marcia reached number 5 in the UK Singles Chart in 1970. [4]


The title of the song comes from Lorraine Hansberry's autobiographical play, To Be Young, Gifted and Black. [5] [6] The song is considered an anthem of the Civil Rights Movement. [7]


"To Be Young, Gifted and Black" was written in memory of Simone's late friend Lorraine Hansberry, author of the play A Raisin in the Sun , who had died in 1965 aged 34. [8] [9]


"To Be Young, Gifted and Black" is widely regarded as one of Simone's best songs. In 2022, American Songwriter ranked the song number five on their list of the 10 greatest Nina Simone songs, [10] and in 2023, The Guardian ranked the song number three on their list of the 20 greatest Nina Simone songs. [11]

Cover versions

Notable cover versions of the song were recorded by:


Mathematically Gifted & Black

The name of Mathematically Gifted & Black was partially inspired by the song. [12] [13] [14]

Related Research Articles

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Day Dreaming (Aretha Franklin song)</span> 1972 single by Aretha Franklin

"Day Dreaming" is a soul single by American singer Aretha Franklin. Released from her album Young, Gifted and Black, it spent two weeks at the top of the Hot Soul Singles chart in April 1972 and peaked at number five on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 11 on the Easy Listening singles chart. Billboard ranked it as the No. 61 song for 1972.

To Be Young, Gifted and Black: Lorraine Hansberry in her Own Words, is a play about the life of American writer Lorraine Hansberry, adapted from her own writings. Hansberry was best known for her 1959 play A Raisin in the Sun, the first show on Broadway written by an African-American woman. After her death in 1965, Hansberry's ex-husband and friend, songwriter and poet Robert Nemiroff, collated her unpublished writings and adapted them into a stage play that first ran from 1968 to 1969 off Broadway. It was then converted into an equally successful autobiography with the same title.

(To Be) Young, Gifted and Black may refer to:

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  1. Ryan, Patrick. "Sundance 2021: Questlove takes us to forgotten 'Black Woodstock' in joyous concert doc 'Summer of Soul'". USA TODAY.
  2. Obenson, Tambay (January 29, 2021). "'Summer of Soul' Review: Questlove's Directorial Debut Captures the Legacy of Forgotten 'Black Woodstock'".
  3. "Nina Simone". Billboard.
  4. 1 2 Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 67. ISBN   1-904994-10-5.
  5. Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 528.
  6. "Songs of Black Lives Matter: Nina Simone, "To Be Young, Gifted and Black"". SoulMusic. 13 July 2020.
  7. "Nina Simone's 'Lovely, Precious Dream' For Black Children".
  8. 1 2 "Nina Simone's 'Lovely, Precious Dream' For Black Children".
  9. "Chadwick Boseman shines a light on Nina Simone's 'To Be Young, Gifted and Black'". Los Angeles Times. January 28, 2019.
  10. Long, Sam (March 14, 2022). "The Top 10 Nina Simone Songs". American Songwriter . Retrieved August 28, 2023.
  11. Petridis, Alexis (July 20, 2023). "Nina Simone's 20 greatest songs – ranked!". The Guardian . Retrieved August 28, 2023.
  12. "About Us". Mathematically Gifted & Black.
  13. "Mathematically Gifted and Black". African American Male Mathematics Network.
  14. "The Voices of Black Mathematicians". Scientific American.