What Happened Miss Simone?
While everyone is awaiting Season Two of Stranger Things, I took a couple hours to watch the Netflix documentary, What Happened, Miss Simone?. A different genre to be sure, but definitely worth the time.
I have to say, I knew very little about the famous singer/musician Nina Simone before I hit the play button. The movie starts a bit slow but once it gets going, Simone's story is fascinating. It is aided in large part by the fact there are interviews with her ex-husband and that her daughter is the Executive Producer on the project.
Trained to be a classical pianist, Simone ended up being one of the most unique jazz voices and influences in history. This movie covers her childhood, start in the business, how she met her manager/husband, and how he helped guide her to being one of the most popular singers in the world before the destructive personalities of both of them collided and ruined it.
There are clips from her appearance on the Hugh Heffner's Penthouse show, (It was good to see the Don Adams cameo in that spot as well), and in-depth details of her growing - and often militant - involvement with the Civil Rights Movement. Her song, Mississippi Goddam which you see her singing live, conveys the anger, resentment, that she repeatedly expresses having throughout the film.
The time in Africa is explored a bit and her daughter gives insight on that though there is little footage from that era which is a bit disappointing. But it may be a case that she was just hanging out and footage wasn't on anyone's mind at the time.
If there was one disappointment in the film, in an area I wish I had learned more about, it was the years she spent playing a little Parisian dive for a few hundred francs a night. There was almost no footage of that era and no interviews. She was living in a dirty hole of a flat, in despair, and there should have been more material in the film of her time at the bottom. Just saying.
I was glad that her musicians and friends were interviewed for this and provided insight to her behavior and how she was rescued, and rescued is the word to use, and put back on the course to make her star rise again.
Her voice haunts you. Her songs are memorable. And frankly, I found Backlash Blues relevant for the times we are living in today which is why I posted it atop. This film, music buff or not, is worth your time. Stream it on Netflix. I give it 4/5 on the rating scale.