I’m at the door of Nina Simone’s dressing room and feeling apprehensive. We’re backstage at the HQ on Dublin’s Middle Abbey Street. It’s 7 October 1999 and the Hot Press Awards are just over. Sinéad O’Connor is around, wearing her priest outfit, nervy and talking plenty. Yet she is utterly quelled when Nina kisses her on the cheek. Many of the other Irish notables are nearby, including U2, The Corrs, Shane MacGowan, Westlife, and the emergent Snow Patrol. I’ve been interviewing them all for a BBC TV production and everything has gone well. Then it is suggested that we also speak to Nina.