What Happened, Miss Simone? is the title of a new documentary about singer Nina Simone premiering this week on Netflix. What's happening now, it appears, is a "Nina Simone renaissance," as one commenter put it on NPR Music's Facebook page yesterday. Simone, who died in 2003 at the age of 70, was a bold and passionate performer, able to convey all sorts of emotional nuances with conviction and aesthetic integrity. Her rise to fame ran in rough tandem with the civil-rights movement of the late 1950s and the 1960s, and she became an artistic spokeswoman for the movement with songs such as "Mississippi Goddam." Tender, angry, compassionate, demanding, vulnerable and strong, Simone projected the complicated business of being human, reflected through a prism of gender and race, in a way that continues to inspire devotion decades after her prime years as a musician.
In addition to the above-mentioned documentary, there's also the forthcoming biopic Nina, which has caused controversy through its casting of Zoe Saldana in the title role. Here are a few links to some recent Simone items of note, including a post that I wrote for NPR's Take Five, and two previous Night Lights programs:
The High Priestess Of Soul: Nina Simone In Five Songs (NPR Take Five article)
New Documentary Finds Nina Simone "In Between The Black And White Keys" (NPR Morning Edition feature)
Nina Simone's Time Is Now, Again (New York Times article)
Nina Revisited: A Tribute To Nina Simone (new tribute CD)
Here Comes The Sun: Nina Simone On RCA (Night Lights program)
Four Women: Nina Simone's Mid-1960s Philips Recordings (Night Lights program)