I could tell you more about Nina Simone as a ‘symbol’ than I could as an actual person. ‘What Happened Miss Simone?’ is a nice in to her life story for those of you like myself. Archival footage and interviews with her musical collaborators and family fill out the story of this incredibly complex woman.
A child of the segregation era South, her ambition to be a great classical pianist was the first of many great (for lack of a better term) ‘complications’ that would define the woman who would rechristen herself ‘Nina Simone’ when she hit the Big Apple. Through her own diary and the recollections of her daughter, we get a great glimpse of how Nina’s relationship with her husband/manager was both the best and worst thing that probably ever happened to her.
The talent and the respect to become a major crossover star, her fiercely independent streak drew her (as a woman and an artist) into the Movement and made her beloved by the community she stood up for. (From my own generation, I thought about Lauryn Hill more than once watching this.)
Streaming on Netflix. Definitely worth checking out.