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I Put a Spell on You by Nina Simone with Stephen Cleary

Among jazz diva autobiographies, three are essential reading: Anita O’Day’s High Times, Hard Times (1989), Rosemary Clooney’s Girl Singer (2001; really just an expanded version of her 1977 gem, This for Remembrance) and Nina Simone’s I Put a Spell on You, originally published in 1991. The O’Day and Clooney books, though boldly vivid and admirably brave, are precisely what you’d expect: the former a junkie’s gritty explication of a passion for jazz that, remarkably, couldn’t be destroyed by life-threatening drug abuse; the latter a gutsy account of a sweet Kentucky lass’ rise to superstardom and the love for family (first) and music (second) that enabled her to overcome harrowing battles with personal demons.

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