Kazi Nazrul Islam, Edith Piaf, Nina Simone

Kazi Nazrul Islam

By Elizabeth Doyle


Kazi Nazrul Islam – He was a Bangladeshi poet who believed strongly in a spiritual revolution against all oppression.  He lived in India, and was often imprisoned there, under British rule for … basically being a nuisance.  But he worked all his life for justice for other people of every race and both genders.  And he was so prolific both as a poet and as a songwriter that people will never run out of his songs to cover. Here is one, sung by Anup Jalota.  Click here.









Edith Piaf

Edith Piaf – Many people thought of her as the voice of World War II.  She had a very vagabond childhood, born in France to parents who seemed to have passed her off from one relative to the next, and even left her, according to rumor, to be raised by a brothel for a short time. Her wild street life is what got her involved in the performing arts. And sadly, it’s probably also the reason she didn’t make it to 50.  But she truly became an international superstar, and her unmistakable, vibrating voice was hugely popular among Allied troops fighting Germany during the war.  Sometimes, I have trouble hearing what endeared her so much to people (I’ve spent some time with a few of her albums, though, in hopes of “getting it”!)  But maybe you’ll hear what I can’t quite.  Certainly, her music does transport me back in time:  Click here.




Nina Simone

Nina Simone – This is a classic song that everybody should hear (as performed by Nina Simone) at least once. Nina Simone was an African American who often lived in Barbados, and was inspired early in life by the classical composer J.S. Bach, before using her classical music expertise to create jazz.  Though it’s haunting from the very beginning, you sort of have to get to the very end of the song to appreciate the incredible soul of her voice, and her ingenious use of melody: Click here.





Top photo: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons / Kazi Nazrul Islam in 1920

Second photo: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons / Edith Piaf in 1951

Third photo: Roland Godefroy / Wikimedia Commons /Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported / Nina Simone in 1982

2 thoughts on “Kazi Nazrul Islam, Edith Piaf, Nina Simone

  1. Sharon, what is this? Do I actually not see eye to eye, or perhaps hear ear to ear, with you? Ah well…Edie Piaf is my favorite singer of all time. She, along with Virginia Woolf, got me through college and grad school, where I would have driven you starkly mad, I now guess. Piaf sang to me every day in that incomparable voice so, so close to the fire of the soul. There’s a fantastic documentary film about her, with scenes of her so tiny (not even 5 feet tall) in that plain black dress, so small and alone on the stage–and then she opened her mouth and began to sing. For me personally, Piaf is not as much the voice of WWII as Marlene Dietrich is the voice of WWII. I think of Piaf as the voice of the post-war 40’s, 50’s and early 60’s, when I played her records constantly in my dorm rooms in college and grad school. I still listen to her. And my father, even last year at the age of 97, often asked me to find Piaf’s songs on YouTube on his laptop. Edith Piaf is a force of nature and utterly inimitable (but if you must, try Mireille Mathieu!). Piaf is a love of my life, so I had to sing her praises.

    1. Pamela,

      Thanks for your thoughts about Edith Piaf! The music posts are all written by Elizabeth Doyle, so I cannot take credit for any of them. However, I’ve always loved Edith Piaf’s singing, and I do completely agree with your praise of her! Thanks, Pamela!

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