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Composed by jazz pianist Billy Taylor, this song was originally an instrumental called “I Wish I Knew”. Taylor recorded it in November 1963 with Grady Tate on drums, Ben Tucker on bass, and a horn section. He also wrote the first verse of lyrics, then collaborated with Dick Dallas on the rest. Ms. Simone recorded the song, now retitled as “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free,” for her 1967 album Silk & Soul. She performs it here at Montreux ‘76.
We must never let love die.
This song was written and first performed at the Westbury Music Festival three days after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. Below is that original performance in full:
7 Apr 1968
Ms. Simone tells it like it is.
Oh, today feels like a Nina Simone kind of day. I ain't got no job, but I do have my hair on my head.