Zappagram #93: Grammy recap + Nina Simone tribute

This 93rd issue of Zappagram is dedicated to the one and only Nina Simone

Zappagram #93: Grammy recap + Nina Simone tribute

Hey Zappagrammers,

Who watched the Grammy Awards last night? I’m sure most of us did, but for those who missed it, there are plenty of articles below recapping the winners, losers, and all else that happened. My take? Tracy Chapman still sounds just as amazing today as she did 30 years ago. Billie Eilish and Finneas killed it as always. SZA was fantastic and I wish she’d won more than one Grammy. Joni Mitchell made me cry. I feel bad that Olivia Rodrigo didn’t win anything, but at least she was nominated multiple times? Taylor Swift announcing a new album blew everyone’s minds. I’ve never seen such a lengthy In Memoriam segment ever, but we did lose so many greats this past year. I was pleased to see that even though he just passed this past week, Wayne Kramer of MC5 was mentioned there, alongside other greats like Tina Turner, Trugoy the Dove, Andy Rourke, Sinead O’Connor, David Lindley, and Tony Bennett.

What were your impressions of this year’s show? Were you happy with the chosen winners? What were your favorite performances? Sound off in the comments below!

One of my 2024 goals is to include a piece of original artwork in every week’s newsletter. This week, the artwork and quote of the week are both the great, incomparable Nina Simone.

Ready for a brief music history lesson about this incredible woman?

Born Eunice Kathleen Waymon on February 21, 1933, she initially aspired to be a classically trained pianist and was playing piano by the age of three. To support herself while studying at the Juilliard School in New York, she began playing piano and singing in bars. To conceal her nightclub work from her family, she adopted the stage name "Nina Simone." "Nina" came from a nickname meaning "little one," and "Simone" was inspired by the French actress Simone Signoret.

Simone was deeply involved in the Civil Rights Movement. Her song "Mississippi Goddam" was a response to the 1963 assassination of Medgar Evers and the Birmingham church bombing that killed four African American children. Simone's music often reflected her activism, making powerful statements about race, inequality, and oppression.

Though often associated with jazz, her music defied genre boundaries, incorporating classical, jazz, blues, folk, R&B, gospel, and pop. This versatility made her a pioneering figure in music, influencing a wide range of artists across genres. She became known as the "High Priestess of Soul," a title that captures her unique blend of classical training and deep, expressive voice, imbued with emotional power and soulfulness.

Simone had a complex personality and faced several personal challenges, including struggles with mental health. She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in the 1980s, which helped explain some of her erratic behavior and mood swings experienced throughout her life.

Disenchanted with the racial discrimination she faced in the United States, Simone spent the latter part of her life living in various countries, including Liberia, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and France, where she died on April 21, 2003.

Nina Simone's legacy is vast, and her music continues to influence and inspire. Her contributions to music and to civil rights are remembered as a testament to her courage and commitment to bring about much-needed change, cementing her as a legendary figure in American history.

Be sure to listen to this week’s playlist, which features some of my favorite Nina Simone songs.

Ground control to reader: Take your protein pills. Put your helmet on.

This newsletter ain’t gonna read itself.

“I am just one of the people who is sick of the social order, sick of the establishment, sick to my soul of it all. To me, America’s society is nothing but a cancer, and it must be exposed before it can be cured. I am not the doctor to cure it. All I can do is expose the sickness.”
—Nina Simone



Last week’s poll: Back in the day, Alice Cooper was pen pals with…Pablo Picasso. 31% of you got it right! 38% guessed Charles Manson, and I’d have guessed the same thing.



Featuring: Nina Simone, Nina Simone, and more Nina Simone


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Spotify Apple Music



Grammys 2024: The Complete Winners List
The full rundown of who won what on Music’s Biggest Night [RollingStone]

Taylor Swift Announces New Album ‘Tortured Poets Department’ at Grammys
The superstar won her 13th Grammy — Best Pop Vocal Album for Midnights — and delivered a bit of news [RollingStone]

Grammys 2024: The Best, Worst, and Most WTF Moments
Taylor Swift made history, SZA gave a moving speech, Miley Cyrus sounded incredible — and Tracy Chapman defined 'triumphant return' [RollingStone]

Wayne Kramer, MC5 Co-Founder and Activist, Dead at 75
The founding member of the legendary Detroit proto-punk band was one of rock’s greatest guitarists [RollingStone]

Bruce Springsteen Mourns Mother Adele
She bought Bruce his first guitar in 1956 and remained his biggest fan for the next seven decades [RollingStone]

Aston “Family Man” Barrett, Bassist and Band Leader of Bob Marley & The Wailers, Dead at 77
He also co-produced and engineered several of the group's albums [Consequence]

Melinda Wilson, Wife of Brian Wilson, Dead at 77
"Melinda was more than my wife," Brian Wilson wrote in a statement. "She was my savior. She was my anchor" [RollingStone]

TikTok removes music from UMG artists, including Olivia Rodrigo and Taylor Swift
In an open letter, UMG argued, among other things, that TikTok wasn't compensating its artists fairly [NPR]

Nickel Creek and Andrew Bird Announce 2024 Co-Headlining Tour
Tour kicks off on July 5th in Oregon, then makes stops in cities like Boise, Minneapolis, and Atlanta before wrapping up on July 20th in South Carolina [Consequence]

Khruangbin Announce A la Sala Tour Dates
The Houston trio will perform at Coachella, Red Rocks, and more [Pitchfork]

Queens of the Stone Age Add Spring 2024 US Tour Dates
The newly announced shows will be supported by Royal Blood [Consequence]

Amy Winehouse Biopic Back to Black Gets New Trailer: Watch
The film stars Marisa Abela as the late jazz singer [Pitchfork]

Pearl Jam Unveil Upcoming Album At Daytime L.A. Playback
Project was produced by Andrew Watt, who previously helmed Eddie Vedder's solo LP 'Earthling' [Spin]

Descendents, Vandals, Dead Kennedys, Black Flag to Play Punk in the Park San Francisco
The May 4th event will also feature The Exploited, T.S.O.L., Adolescents, The Dickies, and Dwarves [Consequence]

Dead and Company Confirm Las Vegas Sphere Residency, Announce Dates
What "Final Tour"? Bob Weir, John Mayer, and company book 18 shows at cutting edge arena [RollingStone]

Brit Floyd to Embark on 2024 North American Tour Featuring Harry Waters on Several Dates
The premier Pink Floyd tribute act is celebrating 30 years of The Division Bell along with playing a number of greatest hits [Consequence]

Lana Del Rey to Release Country Album, Lasso, in September
The record was produced by Jack Antonoff and recorded in Muscle Shoals, Nashville, and Mississippi [Consequence]

Portishead’s Beth Gibbons Teases Debut Solo Album
Lives Outgrown will be out soon via Domino [Consequence]

Live Nation Announces 2024 Lawnie Pass
The Lawnie Pass guarantees general admission lawn access to a large slate of summer concerts [Consequence]

Roger Waters Dropped by BMG After Pink Floyd Co-Founder’s Israel Comments
The musician has used his platform as a sounding board for political takes [RollingStone]



Nina Simone performed at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1976. This is her performance of “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free.” Her piano playing is positively dazzling, and her voice is beyond words. We are incredibly fortunate that this amazingly powerful performance was recorded so that we could see, 48 years later, what happened on the stage that night.



J Mascis: What Do We Do Now [listen]
Lee “Scratch” Perry: King Perry [listen]
Low Pressure System: Unknown Caller [listen]
Paul McCartney & Wings: Band on the Run (Underdubbed Mixes) [listen]



- FEB 9 -

Brittany Howard: What Now
Chelsea Wolfe: She Reaches Out to She Reaches Out to She
Les Claypool: Adverse Yaw: The Prawn Song Years
Madi Diaz: Weird Faith
Sonic Youth: Walls Have Ears
Tyler Ramsey: New Lost Ages

- FEB 16 -

Grandaddy: Blu Wav
Idles: Tangk
Matthew Logan Vasquez: Frank’s Full Moon Saloon
Nouvelle Vague: Should I Stay or Should I Go?
Slayer: Show No Mercy (40th Anniversary Edition)

- FEB 23 -

Bombay Bicycle ClubFantasies EP
Can: Can Live in Paris 1973
Laetitia Sadier: Rooting for Love
MGMT: Loss of Life
Modern English: 1 2 3 4
Motörhead: The Löst Tapes
The Cult: Dreamtime (Vinyl Reissue)
The Waterboys: 1985 (Deluxe Edition)

- MAR 1 -

Faye Webster: Underdressed at the Symphony
Kaiser Chiefs: Kaiser Chiefs’ Easy Eighth Album
Liam Gallagher & John Squire: Liam Gallagher & John Squire
Mannequin Pussy: I Got Heaven
Nils Frahm: Day
Thundercat: Apocalypse (10th Anniversary Edition)
The Who: Live At Shea Stadium 1982



- FEB 5 -

Birthdays: American songwriter, record producer and musician Al Kooper (1944) • Nigel Tufnell of Spinal Tap (1948) • Duff McKagan (1964) • A new species of black tarantula, Aphonopelma johnnycashi, that lives near Folsom Prison, California, was named after Johnny Cash. (2016)

- FEB 6 -

Birthdays: Bob Marley (1945) • Kate McGarrigle (1946) • Natalie Cole (1950) • Axl Rose (1962) • Gord Downie of The Tragically Hip (1964) • Rick Astley (1966) • Carl Wilson of The Beach Boys died of cancer, aged 51. (1998)

- FEB 7 -

Birthdays: Garth Brooks (1962) • Danny Goffey of Supergrass & J Dilla (1974) • The Stooges released their third studio album Raw Power. (1973)

- FEB 8 -

Birthdays: Terry Melcher (1942) • Vince Neil (1961) • Guy Man of Daft Punk (1974) • Anderson .Paak (1986) • Max Yasgur died of a heart attack aged 53. He was the owner of the dairy farm in Bethel, New York where Woodstock was held. (1973) • Marquee Moon, the debut album by American rock band Television, was released. (1977) • Burt Bacharach died of natural causes at his home in Los Angeles, California, at the age of 94. (2023)

- FEB 9 -

Birthdays: Carole King (1942) • Joe Ely (1947) • Bill Haley died of a heart attack, aged 55. (1981) • Jazz composer, keyboardist, and bandleader Chick Corea died at age 79. (2021)

- FEB 10 -

Birthdays: Roberta Flack (1937) • Drummer Nigel Olsson (1949) • Cliff Burton of Metallica (1962) Carole King released Tapestry. (1971) • Dave Alexander, the original bassist for The Stooges, died from pneumonia, aged 27. (1975) • The Clash started recording their debut album at CBS studios in London. (1977)

- FEB 11 -

Birthdays: Sheryl Crow (1962) • D’Angelo (1974) • Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park (1977)Brandy (1979) • Kelly Rowland of Destiny’s Child (1981) • Whitney Houston was found dead in suite 434 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, submerged in the bathtub. (2012)

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Peace and love to all,