The other night we sat down to watch “What Happened, Miss Simone,” a new documentary on Netflix about the life and career of the great Nina Simone. It’s a powerful film, showcasing Simone’s unique talent and complicated life, and I highly recommend it. Those who may have been too young back in the ’60s to fully grasp the racial tensions and contradictions of that era — far more profound and unsettling than our own — may find it particularly eye-opening.
But most of all, it’s about the music. The volcanic emotions churning inside Simone — born Eunice Waymon in Tryon, N.C. — find unique and gut-busting expression in her classical piano training and her immense vocal instrument. She really was something to see and hear.
Here’s a song written by Simone in one of her all-too-rare moments of optimism, and even that is tinged with a sense of impending doom and sadness: