I had the opportunity to see the documentary What Happened, Miss Simone? At the Apollo Theater in Harlem before it premiered on Netflix on June 26th and all I can say is that if you have watched it yet, prepare yourself to be moved.
In the first scene of the documentary directed by Academy Award nominee Liz Garbus shows Ms. Nina Simone on stage standing by a piano looking off into the distance with a look of solemnness at a jazz festival in Europe.
At first in that scene I assumed something had happened and that it must be bad and I was partially right because what that facial expression represented was life journey filled with as many highs as there were lows.
For anyone who has never truly heard of Nina Simone’s music then this is the best way to learn about the woman behind some of the Civil Rights Movement’s musical soundtrack with songs like Mississippi Goddam.
Like some artists and musicians specifically Nina Simone was no exception in experiencing bouts of loneliness because of her talent. She also dealt with mental illness and also only being seen for her ability to play the piano and not so much the person she really was. This includes getting to see Simone as more than just a musician but also as a woman, mother, wife and truly a complex person.
The documentary allows anyone to get to learn who Nina Simone was and also becoming a fan of her music. Take the opportunity to check out on this documentary on Netflix it is one that will leave you looking at musicians differently. It will also prepare you for the dramatic film adaption of Nina Simone’s life starring Zoe Saldana called Nina (2015) and also some of the issues of race and sexism director and writer Gina Prince Bythewood was touching on in her film Beyond the Lights (2014).