What Inspires Singer Simone

May 10, 2012
Originally published on May 10, 2012 10:59 am
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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Now it's time for the occasional feature we call "In Your Ear." That's where we ask some of our guests what they're listening to these days. Today, we're going to hear some music that inspires actress and singer Lisa Celeste. She's better known by her stage name, Simone. That's a nod to her late mother, the legendary singer Nina Simone.

Simone has appeared on Broadway, in the musicals "Rent" and "Aida." We caught up with her last year, and here are some of the songs she listens to when she's not making her own music.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SKIN")

EPHRAIM LEWIS: (Singing) Shelter me.

SIMONE: Hi, my name's Simone and currently, I'm listening to "Skin," by Ephraim Lewis.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SKIN")

LEWIS: (Singing) Searching for a way out of so much pain...

SIMONE: I love his vocals, his delivery, his backgrounds. I love the production. Everything about it is just perfect.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SKIN")

LEWIS: (Singing) ...let's live again. I'm a public face with a private life. You want to get close enough to touch. Weave your lies 'cause I can't hide. Never touch my soul, I need that much.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WHIP MY HAIR")

WILLOW SMITH: (Singing) I whip my hair back and forth. I whip my hair back and forth. Just whip it. I whip my hair back and forth. I whip my hair back and forth.

SIMONE: And then another one of my favorites - I just heard the other day - is by Willow Smith.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WHIP MY HAIR")

SMITH: (Singing) Hop up out the bed, turn my swag on. Pay no attention to them haters because we whip 'em off. And we ain't doin' nothin' wrong. So don't tell me nothin'. I'm just trying to have fun.

SIMONE: I start whipping my head back and forth, and dancing all around. I love that song.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WHIP MY HAIR")

SMITH: (Singing) I whip my hair back and forth. Just whip it. I whip my hair back and forth. I whip my hair back and forth. Whip it real good. I whip my hair back and forth. I whip my hair back and forth. I whip my...

SIMONE: Another one that I listen to every evening is singing bowls, by the artist Hans de Back. Really helps me to come down at the end of the day, and just kind of focus my mind on the sounds and the different tones of the bowl so that I can rest peacefully.

(SOUNDBITE OF "SINGING BOWL")

MARTIN: That was singer and actress Simone, telling us what's playing in her ear. To hear our previous conversation with her, please go to our website. Go to NPR.org, click on the Programs tab, and then on TELL ME MORE.

(SOUNDBITE OF "SINGING BOWL")

MARTIN: And that's our program for today. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.