“How can you be an artist and NOT reflect the times?”

– Nina Simone


Can I just get into the Netflix Nina Simone documentary?

Last night, I went to an advanced screening of What Happened, Miss Simone, at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. I was definitely schooled. I have loved Nina’s music for so long, but I didn’t really know her. There were so many snippets that caught my ear.

• She was next door neighbors with Malcolm X in Mt. Vernon, NY, and his children referred to her as Auntie Nina

• She was a manic depressive and bipolar woman who was regularly beaten by her husband/manager.

• She didn’t know much about the political movements in the ‘60s, so she smartly kept the company of Langston Hughes, and Lorraine Hansberry of A Raisin in the Sun and Young, Gifted and Black fame. They were tight-knit friends.

• She felt that she couldn’t just sing pretty ditties; that she had a duty to speak to the political times

• She truly felt at home in Libera, West Africa, but spent her last days in Europe.

The night was topped off by a surprise performance by Lauryn Hill who performed an updated rendition of some of Nina’s hits, including Ne Me Quitte Pas and Aint Got No. Jazmine Sullivan also graced us with her superbly soulful vocals. Snippets below:

Sidenote: Who knew that Lauryn had an Instagram account?

Last night was everything.

EVENT: FEATURED ARTIST: Nina Simone. PHOTOGRAPHER: David Redfern. CREDITS: [Agency] Redferns.                [Copyright holder] David Redfern.

What Happened Miss Simone, debutes on Netflix June 26, 2015.