“There’s a studio recording of Nina Simone singing ‘My Father’ that always knocks me out. Ms. Simone actually sings only a few lines from the song:
My father always promised me
That we would live in France.
We'd go boating on the Seine
And I would learn to dance
“And then she stops, suddenly, and says: ‘I don't want to sing this song. It’s not me.’ She begins to laugh, wildly, infectiously. When she recovers, she apologizes to the musicians and tells them, with utter authority, 'Okay, we have to skip this one.’ It's such a lovely moment of an artist being true to herself, refusing to say something that feels wrong in her mouth, in her body. She trusts her voice, and its inclinations. Every time I hear the recording, it makes me happy.”
—Victor Lodato, author of Mathilda Savitch (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009)