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What Happened Miss Simone?

Nina Simone wanted to be the first classical pianist to play Carnegie Hall, but events in her life were such that she started playing in jazz clubs and developed a long career as a singer and songwriter. The film reviews her life, through interviews with her daughter, ex-husband, and her lead guitarist, among others, as well as through her diary writings and recorded interviews. I think what is most fascinating and makes the film completely worth it is the concert footage. You get to hear a lot of the songs that made her famous as she sang them in various venues. I also did not know that she was as active in the civil rights movement as she was, and her activism and disillusionment with America seemed to consume her. I am not sure that I walked away from this with a clear picture of what happened; her ex-husband never really opens up about their relationship. Her daughter did, and you get a better sense of a woman who probably was suffering a mental illness before it was commonly understood. But thumbs up from me. The film did what a good documentary does – revealing other sides of the personalities they explore, things that I did not know. And I loved listening to her again, especially through her concerts. (2015; 3.5 Stars)

About Gary Burkholder

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