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While she had no experience as a vocalist, Eunice faked it well enough to get the job, and she adopted a stage name, Nina Simone -- Nina from a pet name her boyfriend used, and Simone from the French film star Simone Signoret.

The newly christened Nina Simone was a quick study as a singer, and her unique mixture of jazz, blues, and the classics soon earned her a loyal audience.

After graduating at the top of her high school class, Eunice received a grant to study at the Juilliard School of Music in New York City, and applied for enrollment at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.

However, Eunice was denied admission at the Curtis Institute under mysterious circumstances, despite what was said to be a stellar audition performance; Eunice would insist that her race was the key reason she was rejected.

Eunice displayed a precocious musical talent at the age of three when she started picking out tunes on the family's piano, and a few years later she was playing piano at her mother's Sunday church services.