Nina Simone, the temperamental "high priestess of soul," canceled out on her first U.S. appearance in nearly four years and abruptly flew back to Geneva, Switzerland, where she has been living as an expatriot.
Scheduled to appear at a Sunday midnight concert at the Newport Jazz Festival, Simone stormed out of an afternoon rehearsal at New York's Carnegie Hall, enraged, according to observers, that she had been barred from the concert hall for a time by a guard who didn't recognize her.
Simone, who is known for her protest songs and her expressive singing style, arrived late at the hall, couldn't find the artists' entrance and, according to a rehearsal participant, went to the front of the auditorium. There she was told "pipe down and get in line with the others. It raised such bad memories in her that it turned into a scene."
Simone was calmed down for a time, the musician continued, long enough to adjust microphone balance levels. Then she became irate once again, and departed for the airport. "She said she couldn't face things in this country," he said. "She was emotional."
Jazz fans who arrived at the hall for the midnight concert where Simone was scheduled to combine a program of Kurt Weill songs, accompanied by Lucas Foss and the Brooklyn Philharmonia, with jazz songs backed only by guitar and piano, were faced with the cancellation and offered refunds.
A spokesman for the Newport Jazz Festival said that while a "considerable amount of money" had been lost, there was no plan to bring any action against Simone. "We have had this experience with other volatile people."
Another Simone concert had been scheduled for July 3. But the spokesman said this also was off.