German born Hans Zimmer is a pioneer in the use of digital synthesizers, advanced computer technology, electronic keyboards and their successful integration with the traditional orchestra in music for film and television.
Moving to London, Hans began composing jingles for Air Edel Associates and teamed up with Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes as "The Buggles" to produce the worldwide hit, Video Killed the Radio Star and subsequent album The Age of Plastic. By 1980 Hans was pioneering the use of computers live on stage while working with the group Ultravox. Then he enjoyed a period of stardom in Italy with the avant garde band "Krisma", before returning to London to develop his next project with Warren Cann of Ultravox, culminating in a series of unique concerts at the London Planetarium.
It was shortly after this that Hans met and began working with the film composer Stanely Myers. Realizing the importance of incorporating the two musical forms, electronic and classical, they set up "Lillie Yard Studio" in London with the very latest state of the art musical technology.
Zimmer continued to work out of "Lille Yard Studio" as his partnership with Myers strengthened. They worked very successfully on Jerzy Skolimovshi's Moonlighting, Success Is The Best Revenge and The Lightship; Nicholas Roeg's Insignificance and The Castaway. They then went on the compose the music for the box office hit My Beautiful Launderette (Best Picture Evening Standard Awards).
In 1986 he worked solo on Working Title's Vardo and he then went on to work with Ryuichi Sakamoto, and David Byrne, to produce the soundtrack for the award winning epic The Last Emperor. This was followed by another teaming with Stanely Myers for the score of Nature and the Beast. He then wrote scores for Philip Saville's Wonderland, and Paperhouse for director Bernard Rose at Working Title. Then for Vestron he composed the music for the Faye Dunaway, Klaus Maria Brandauer feature Burning Secret.
In 1988 he was asked to compose the music for a small budget, ground breaking film about South Africa, A World Apart. Based on a true story, this film was not just a coming of age of the voice of the struggle, but a turning point in Hans' career. As a result he was asked to write the Oscar nominated score for the box office smash Rain Man.
Through 1989 Hans scored Ridley Scott's Black Rain and then his third Oscar contender, Driving Miss Daisy. He followed this with the score for the Universal release Bird on a Wire, Paramount's race car drama Days of Thunder starring Tom Cruise, Fox's thriller Pacific Heights, allowing Hans to work with Oscar winning director John Schlesinger.
In 1991 Hans completed the scores for Peter Weir's GreenCard (Golden Globe Best Comedy), Ridley Scott's Thelma & Louise, Ron Howards fireman epic, Backdraft, Richard Donner's film Radio Flyer, and Franc Roddman's mountaineering thriller, K-2.
1992 began with Hans working on his second south African film, The Power of One for director John Avildsen. The epic scope of this movie allowed Hans a unique opportunity to write both songs and music with a South African lyricist to create haunting tribal anthems to support the historic struggle of the film.
Hans then went to work with Penny Marshall on A League of Their Own about the first all woman baseball league, starring, Geena Davis, Tom Hanks and Madonna. Hans finished up 1992 working with Barry Levingson on Toys starring Robin Williams. The most popular music from that film, however, was ultimately the songs contributed by Enya.
1993 started with scoring the American version on La Femme Nikita and Point of No Return starring Bridget Fonda. This was Hans' second collaboration with director John Badham. Hans then worked with director Percy Adlon of his film "Younger and Younger, reteamed with executive producer Penny Marshall for Calendar Girl and also with Tony Scott, who directed Days of Thunder for the Quentin Tarentino story of True Romance. Hans' score for the Disney surprise hit Cool Runnings did blistering business at both the box office and in the charts. Hans' next release was the criticaly acclaimed I'll Do Anything written and directed by James L. Brooks, starring Nick Nolte. Hans also composed the original score to Bille Augusts' House of The Spirits which is doing amazing buisiness in Europe. 1995 efforts included such films as Nine Months (for which Hans wrote the theme before production started) and Something to Talk About.
Two enormously popular soundtracks were released in 1995. The score for John Boorman's Beyond Rangoon combines ethnic pipes and voice with synthesizer. Later in the year, the submarine thriller Crimson Tide was a huge success at the box office and Zimmer received high praise for his choral, action-packed score.
In 1996, he wrote a wealth of material for seven films, beginning with John Woo's Broken Arrow. This gave Hans the chance to score a western (sort of) --he had originally wanted to score Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven. Next, he scored the summer hit The Rock with Harry Gregson-Williams and a short recording for The Fan. His score for The Preacher's Wife (unreleased as of 1999) was nominated for an Academy Award. He continued with what he considers his best score: Two Deaths. Other releases of the year included The Whole Wide World and Muppet Treasure Island.
Perhaps the most classical of his works, Smilla's Sense of Snow was scored in early 1997. Next for Hans is Old Friends and The Peacemaker, and he is already slated for two scores in 1998.
[from Filmtracks Composer Tributes, www.filmtracks.com]
Eunice Kathleen Waymon was born on February 21, 1933 in Tryon, North Carolina, USA., the sixth of eight children, four boys and four girls. Early on in life she revealed a prodigious musical talent playing the piano and singing in the local church with her sisters in their mother's choir. At the age of six, in 1939, a benefactor paid for her first piano lessons.
Eunice made so much progress that in 1943, when she was 10, she gave her first piano recital at the town library. There she not only experienced her first applause, but also had her first encounter with racism: during the recital her parents were removed from the first row to accommodate some whites. This episode was a traumatic experience for her and may be the origin of her commitment to the fight for freedom and civil rights.
With the financial help of some local supporters, Eunice left North Carolina in 1950 to continue her musical education at the Juilliard School of Music in New York, the same school that Miles Davis attended. After New York her family moved to Philadelphia. She tested for a scholarship at the prestigious Curtis Institute in Philadelphia but was rejected, ostensibly for musical reasons, but probably for her color.
Feeling discouraged, in order to support herself and pay for further lessons she became an accompanist for a singing teacher. Later, in 1954, she took a job as a singer-pianist in the Midtown Bar and Grill in Atlantic City, adopting the stage name of Nina Simone. Nina (a means "girl" in Spanish) from a pet name that a boyfriend gave her, and Simone (from the French actress Simone Signoret) for its dignified sound.
It was at Midtown Bar, where Nina Simone sang, played and improvised, that her career took off. Subsequently she played in several Philadelphia clubs. Recognized as a talented pianist, she was given a recording session with Bethlehem Records in 1957; in this session she records 14 tracks.
Simone's first album Jazz as played in an Exclusive Side Street Club (11 tracks), published in 1958 and by then also know as Little Girl Blue, was a great success, first in Philadelphia and New York and then in the whole US. The single released from that recording (featuring "I Loves You Porgy" and "He Needs Me") became a national rhythm & blues (placing 13th) hit in the summer of 1959, selling over a million copies.
(Thirty years later, in 1987, "My Baby Just Cares for Me" another selection from the same album, was adopted as the theme for a British television advert for Chanel No 5 perfume, and reached the 5th place on the English pop charts.)
Bethlehem make use of the remaining three tracks recorded by Nina for the collective album And Her Friends, published when Nina have already signed with Colpix.
Thanks to the success of her first recordings, in 1959 Simone signed with Colpix (Columbia Pictures Records) a collaboration that lasted until 1964. Nina recorded 10 albums while signed to Colpix: six studio and four "live" albums. She recorded some songs of Columbia film soundtracks (including "Wild Is The Wind", "Sayonara", "Samson and Delilah") as well as a new version of the Bethlehem hit "I Loves You Porgy".
In 1961 she recorded the traditional song "The House of the Rising Sun". The same song was recorded by Bob Dylan in his debut album, issued in March 1962 and subsequently by the Animals in 1963. In the summer of 1964, "The House of the Rising Sun" by the Animals was at the top of the American and English charts, on the eve of the band's US tour (part of the "British invasion").
In 1961 Nina marries Andy Stroud, a New York detective and in 1962 their daughter Lisa Celeste Stroud is born.
In 1964, Nina Simone began her association with Philips, a Mercury subsidiary. This collaboration lasted for three years during which Nina recorded seven albums. One of the first songs recorded during the Philips period is "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood", from then associated with her name. The songs is covered by the Animals in 1965, the same year where Nina publish "I Put a Spell on You", a 1956's song by Screamin' Jay Hawkins. Also this song is immediately covered (August 1965) by the Alan Price Set, the group founded by organist Alan Price after his departures from Animals.
During her association with Philips, Nina take the way to the protest song also (after the jazz and black periods) and wrote "Mississippi Goddam!". This is her first song of protest, written after the murders of Medgar Evers in Mississippi (June 1963) and four black schoolchildren in Alabama (September 1963).
In 1966 Nina switches to RCA (she will stay until 1974: to date her last long-term affiliation with an American label) a deal negotiated by her husband who acts as her manager and to whom some compositions are credited. From the summer of 1968 through the end of 1969, "all of her recordings were produced by her husband-manager, although we can assume that it was really Nina who was making the final selections of repertoire and essentially masterminding the sessions" according David Nathan.
While at RCA Nina records nine albums and some of her most popular songs. Her version of "Ain't Got No/I Got Life", a medley from the 60s musical Hair, gets N. 2 in UK and her soul version of "To Love Somebody" by the Bee Gees get in the Spring of 1969 in the Top 10 British hit. "To Be Young, Gifted And Black", inspired by a play of the same name by Lorraine Hansberry, a friend of Nina, is recorded by Aretha Franklin in 1972.
Embittered by racism, Nina renounced her homeland in 1969 and became a wanderer, roaming the world. She lived in Liberia, in Barbados, Switzerland, France, Trinidad, the Netherlands, Belgium and UK at various times. In 1970 she and Stroud split up, and Nina attempt to manage herself and work with her brother Sam Waymon. In 1974 she leaves RCA.
In 1978 Nina was arrested, and soon released, for withholding taxes in 1971-73 in protest at her government's undeclared war in Vietnam. The same year she make the LP Baltimore for the CTI label and in 1982 the LP Fodder on my Wings for a Swiss label. In 1985 she records Nina's back and Live and Kickin in US.
In 1987 her previously-mentioned European success with "My Baby Just Cares For Me" brought Nina back into the public eye: her music was featured in 1992 movie Point Of No Return, with the lead character using Nina as inspiration. The same year she records Let It Be Me at The Vine Street Bar & Grill in Hollywood for Verve Records.
She moved to the southern French town of Bouc-Bel- Air near Aix-en-Provence in 1993.
A protest singer; a jazz singer; a pianist; an arranger and a composer, Nina Simone is a great artist who defies easy classification. She is all of these: a jazz-rock-pop-folk-black musician. In fact, we can find her biography in jazz, rock, pop, black and soul literature. Her style and her hits provided many singers and groups with material for hits of their own.
[from Sing365, www.365.com]