Nina Simone‘s documentary entitled What Happened, Miss Simone? was shown at Harlem’s Apollo Theatre last night. The documentary screening was followed by soulful performances from Ms. Lauryn Hill and Jazmine Sullivan. Hill performed some of Simone’s most iconic songs including “Ne Me Quitte Pas” and “Black Is the Color of My True Love’s Hair.” Hill even performed her own rendition of Simone’s “Ain’t Got No, I Got Life,” before she passed the microphone to Jazmine Sullivan. Sullivan poured her heart into the song “Baltimore,” which was written by Randy Newman in 1977 (Simone once covered the record). Hill stated how relevant “Baltimore” is today, given the unjust death of Freddie Gray, and the riots that ensued in the Baltimore (MD).
Hill closed the set by thanking Simone for her momentous contribution to music and the world. “Thank you, Nina Simone, for existing and being bold enough to speak,” she stated. Hill has been compared to Simone throughout her career, and the singer even mentioned Simone in one of the Fugees’ songs. “Frontin’ n***as give me hee-bee-gee-bees/ So while you’re imitating Al Capone/ I’ll be Nina Simone/ And defecating on your microphone,” Hill rapped on the Fugees’ “Ready or Not.”
What Happened, Miss Simone? will make its official premiere June 26th on Netflix. The film, directed by Liz Garbus, chronicles the life of Simone’s musical journey as a classical pianist to a iconic blues musician. Simon was also very instrumental during the Civil Rights movement, and she became a civil rights activist. The documentary also features interviews from Simone’s family, friends, and fellow musicians. A Nina Simone tribute album is set to be released alongside the film, and it will showcase music from Lauryn Hill, Mary J. Blige, Jazmine Sullivan, Usher, Grace, Robert Glasper, Andra Day, and more. During her career, Simone released more than forty albums including Forbidden Fruit, Pastel Blues, and I Put a Spell on You. Some of her most recognized songs include “Feelin’ Good,” “I Put a Spell on You,” “Sinner Man,” and “My Baby Just Cares for Me.” The blues icon lost her battle with breast cancer in 2003, and she died on April 21st at the age of 70 years old.
FDRMX Eyes: Hailing from Austin, Texas, Black Books made their music video for “Favorite Place” with stop-motion, featuring a rainbow collection of colored thread. The vibrant spools of thread flash before the camera. Check it out here: