Friday, November 11, 2016

Liz Garbus: 'What Happened, Miss Simone?' (2015)

Liz Garbus' What Happened, Miss Simone? (2015) is a thrilling, consciousness-raising documentary about Nina Simone, the High Priestess of Soul. 

The inescapable context of the life of Nina Simone (1933-2003) was and is the intractable racial divisiveness of the USA. American society just can't seem to get it together as a whole.

Born in North Carolina before becoming Nina Simone, Nina was known locally as Eunice Waymon. Eunice/Nina became a classically trained Julliard pianist. Her most active recording years took her from the late 1950s into the 1970s. She became a powerful civil and human rights advocate.

However, disgusted with the slow pace of social progress in the United States (and to escape from her violent ex-cop husband), she went on to live more freely in Barbados and London before finally basing herself, for the last ten years of her life, in the South of France. 

A strong and unique singer and person, Nina's mental health suffered in later years -- perhaps, one may suspect, in part from earlier domestic abuse. But when she was on, she was truly spectacular, even towards the end.
What Happened, Miss Simone? is an outstanding Netflix Documentary and RadicalMedia/Moxie Firecracker Production. I waited for the 2016 DVD, which includes a companion CD. The latter has a sampling that highlights many of Nina's most powerful tracks, ranging from "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" and "I Put a Spell on You" to "Mississippi Goddamn" and "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out." I dig it!

Today's Rune: Protection. 


the walking man said...

I often wonder what would happen if the Blacks who were very popular would have stayed instead of migrated to Europe or whatever. They could afford the changes them that gave them the ability to move never could. Would they have been listened to as activists with the same passion they were as artists?

Charles Gramlich said...

Seems like a number of our black writers found more acceptance and freedom in France. James Baldwin comes to mind.

Erik Donald France said...

Good thoughts, dudes. Many merci dankes.