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The Nina Simone Database
To Be Young, Gifted and Black
1969 Weldon Irvine jr, Nina Simone
Toward the end of 1968, Nina Simone had begun working with a young, multi-talented musician, Weldon Irvine, and with him she had written "Young, Gifted and Black" as a way of paying homage to her longtime friend, playwright Lorraine Hansberry (best known for Raisin in the Sun). Released as a single in November 1969, it became Nina's biggest RCA hit, reaching the Top 10 on the R&B charts.
More importantly, it became an important statement that reflected the increasing desire to express pride in the achievements of African-Americans. This was the dawning of a new day and Nina and Weldon were verbalizing a culture's state of mind with their uplifting message of encouragement and empowerment. Not surprisingly, the song has gone on to become the most recorded item in Nina's repertoire, spawning versions by Aretha Franklin, Donny Hathaway, Dionne Warwick and '70s reggae stars Bob & Marcia, among others.
-David Nathan, liner notes for CD Sugar in my Bowl

Recording sessions
1969 April 26: Berkeley (US-CA) 3th Annual UC Jazz Festival
1969 June: Atlanta (US-GA) Morehouse College
2007 [7:24] DVD 9 College Concerts and Interviews Andy Stroud (US)
1969 August 17: New York - Harlem Cultural Festival
2005 [3:00] DVD 8 The Soul of RCA/Legacy 82876 71973 2 (US)
1969 August 25-26: New York RCA Manhattan B
standard studio version
Young gifted and black
Oh what a lovely precious dream
To be young gifted and black
remix 2005
2006 [2:51] CD 1 Forever Young, Gifted & Black RCA Victor (US)
1969 October 26: New York Philarmonic Hall
standard live version
That took everything out of me. Sure... We will give you... eh... First of all you have to... I think I introduced everybody. Did I? No? I didn't introduce him did I? Well, I did? Cos I'm always good for him. Did I? Oh okay. Pearl, are you here? Alright. It's my friend dear.

Listen, and I also want to talk about a friend who I miss more and more everyday everyday. It seems that she comes alive more everyday for there are all kinds of things written about her each day more and more, and I'm talking about Lorraine Hansberry. In this month's Esquire you will find two articles about her and of course you know who she is... dig that... and there is a play downtown... at least it was when we left, called "To Be Young, Gifted..." it's still there... and it's called "To Be Young, Gifted and Black."

It's the story of her life and we, Weldon Irvine and I got together and composed a tune in memory of her. And I think that very soon now, maybe I say four or five weeks, I won't be able to sing it anymore, for each time I do it she comes a little closer and I miss her a little bit more.
So for her, for she's here with us and she approves: To Be Young Gifted and Black. Could we invite the Swordsmen ... did you enjoy them... to come back on stage and help us do this song, for you.

By the way, it is our last last, our latest song, it's on a 45 RCA Victor. Now it is not addressed primarily to white people, though it does not put you down in any way, it simply ignores you.
For my people need all the inspiration and love that they can get, so. So, since this house is full and there're 22 million blacks in this country I only want one million to buy this record, you understand.

To be young gifted and black
Oh what a lovely precious dream
To be young gifted and black
Open your heart to what I mean

In the whole world you know
There's a million boys and girls
Who are young gifted and black
And that's a fact

You are young gifted and black
We must begin to tell our young
There's a world waiting for you
Yours is the quest that's just begun

So when you're feeling real low
There's a great thruth that you should know
To be young gifted and black
Your soul's intact

Hey now now now
Yeah now
Westwind with your wisdom
Gather all the young for me
Black cloud hanging over
Nest your bosom strong and free
Make us free from exploitation and strife
Cos nothing is more precious than your life
Westwind with your splendour
Take my people by the hand
Spread your glory sunshine
Unify my unify my Promised Land
Hey unify us and don't divide us
Don't divide us no more Lord
We don't need it don't divide us
Unify us unify us unify us and don't divide us
Let us get it together Lord
Let us not fight over trivias
Let us learn how to love ourselves first unify us
Hear me Westwind hear me man hear me Stokeley
Hear me mama hear me daddy hear me ev'rybody
Oh yeah calling Lorraine hear me
Langston hear me and help me oh
Yeah now take this one home with you
Just take this one home with you

To be young gifted and black
Oh how I long to know the truth
There are times when I look back
And I am haunted by my youth

Yeah but my joy of today
Is that we can all be proud to say
To be young gifted and black
Sing it
Is where it's at is where it's at is where it's at
Gifted and black is where it's at
Is where it's at is where it's at

(Lyrics transcription by Roger Nupie)
whitout initial intro
1992 [6:59] CD 8 Songs of the Poets Edsel EDCD 347
1984 August 25: London (UK) Ronnie Scott's
To be young gifted and black
Oh what a lovely precious dream
To be young gifted and black
1985 May 19: London (UK) Savoy Theatre
2002 DVD 10 A Nightingale Sang... Cascade 60008 (DE)
1986 December 21: Zürich (CH) Kongresshaus
1988 May 6: Hamburg (DE) Fabrik
1988 September 20: Barcelona (ES) Mercat del Born
Unknown recording session
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