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Song concepts for Nina Simone from Langston Hughes

I Put a Spell on You

In response to Simone performing his suggested song "See-Line Woman" in 1964, Hughes recommended several additional songs for her to sing (likely between  November of 1964 and January of 1965) following his concept of "Spell Casting" and "Enticement."



One of the songs Hughes suggests for Simone is "You Cast a Spell on Me."

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Hughes provides Simone with original lyrics of his own that Simone upgrades by finding the little-known song "I Put a Spell on You" recorded earlier by Screamin' Jay Hawkins.

The song Simone records becomes one of her most beloved. It becomes the title track of an album in 1965, helps create the central idea of her lasting image, and eventually served as the title of her autobiography in 1991. 


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Hughes's original lyrics


High Priestess of Soul

This January 1967 album cover title and image led fans, musicians, and reviewers to start referring to Simone by this title. Soon after, Simone started both dressing and playing the part. Here's juts one example. LA Times jazz critic Leonard Feather wrote of her concert performance at the Troubadour that the enthroned Simone "proceeded to keep the entire room entranced for close to an hour." She has a "smile as wide as the Nile and displays a personality as stately as a princess."

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