“I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free” is a gospel/jazz song written by Billy Taylor and Dick Dallas, best known for the recording by Nina Simone in 1967 on her Silk & Soul album. Billy Taylor’s original version (as “I Wish I Knew”) was recorded November 12, 1963 and released on his Right Here, Right Now album (Capitol ST-2039) the following year. His 1967 instrumental take was later used as the theme music for The Film programme on BBC television.
Billy Taylor has explained: “I wrote this song, perhaps my best known composition, for my daughter Kim. This is one of the best renditions I’ve done, because it is very spiritual.”
Here’s the composer, Dr Taylor, in action:
And here’s the extraordinary Ms Simone, revisiting her famous interpretation of the tune: