Nina Simone (1976)

Watch Nina Simone perform a medley of Stars and Feelings live at the Montreux Jazz Festival, 1976

In honor of Nina Simone’s birthday, born on this day in 1933, I present to you Nina Simone!

Nina Simone was one of the great female vocalists of the 20th Century. She was equally at home singing jazz, blues, soul, gospel or pure pop. Hugely prolific throughout the fifties, sixties and seventies, she recorded only rarely in her later career, but remained a major live performer until well into the nineties when, becoming increasingly frail, she retired to France where she died in 2003 at the age of 70.

Nina Simone made four appearances at the Montreux Festival between 1968 and 1990. This clip features a segment of the performance from 1976 as the main feature.

Nina Simone was one of the most extraordinary artists of the twentieth century, an icon of American music. She was the consummate musical storyteller, a griot as she would come to learn, who used her remarkable talent to create a legacy of liberation, empowerment, passion, and love through a magnificent body of works. She earned the moniker ‘High Priestess of Soul’ for she could weave a spell so seductive and hypnotic that the listener lost track of time and space as they became absorbed in the moment. She was who the world would come to know as Nina Simone.

When Nina Simone died on April 21, 2003, she left a timeless treasure trove of musical magic spanning over four decades from her first hit, the 1959 Top 10 classic “I Loves You Porgy,” to “A Single Woman,” the title cut from her one and only 1993 Elektra album. While thirty-three years separate those recordings, the element of honest emotion is the glue that binds the two together – it is that approach to every piece of work that became Nina’s uncompromising musical trademark.

By the end of her life, Nina was enjoying an unprecedented degree of recognition. Her music was enjoyed by the masses due to the CD revolution, discovery on the Internet, and exposure through movies and television. Nina had sold over one million CDs in the last decade of her life, making her a global catalog best-seller.

Happy Birthday, Nina Simone!

Matvey Rezanov (2021)

A rare example of a music video made for a modern classical piece. This watercolor animation is made for Arvo Pärt’s world premiere recording of “Estonian Lullaby for Violin and Piano”. Arvo Pärt is one of the most celebrated and performed composers today. Multiple watercolors were painted and filmed to achieve the artistic look for this animation.

Skazka was founded in Portland, Oregon in 2016 by established artist Matvey Rezanov. Matvey is captivated by the beauty of paint movement and the power of brushstrokes to tell a story in a unique way, using different styles or strata. He has combined his fine art background with technical skills in photography and videography to create a unique form of animation that blends cinematic language with art and brings two dimensional paint to life.

Matvey started his journey into film on the sets of Coraline and Paranorman, with five seasons on the production of Grimm. His vision, though, was to create an independent studio that would blend Art and technology, so Skazka was born.

Through both high quality artwork and digital skill, Skazka uses the inherent emotional quality of watercolor imagery, captures it “live” and creates an immersive story in motion. As the paint flows across the screen it reveals the inner world of a character and their emotions, bringing painting gloriously to life.  Skazka excels in its ability to communicate the distinctive feel of a story, and the individual qualities of each character, through the skilled use of colors, brushstroke and painting style.

With fine watercolor art and live and animated film background, Skazka studio has worked on multiple projects including Kid Cudi’s headline performances at Coachella and Rolling Loud music festivals,  world premiere recording of Arvo Pärt’s  Estonian Lullaby and upcoming feature documentary about Prince.

To learn more about Matvey Rezanov and Skazka Studios visit his website at: