At the end of 1966, Hughes passes along a copy of a poem he has written asking Simone if she would be interested in putting music to it and performing it.
Hughes is in the audience at the Lincoln Center’s Philharmonic Hall on Nov. 22, 1966, when Simone performs the song for what is likely the very first time ever. She receives a standing ovation after the song is finished. Hughes appears to be remarkably moved as he keeps the souvenir program of the event with his personal belongings.
As seen in the Academy Award-winning film Summer of Soul, “The Backlash Blues” becomes a staple of Simone’s performances and one of the five most important songs of her career.