Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Nina Simone and Freedom

A few years ago, I saw this picture of Nina Simone and Redd Foxx on someone's website.

I remember thinking... how classy. I knew of Redd Foxx from his Sanford and Son days, but this picture was of him from the 50s or 60s, long before my time. I'd heard of Nina Simone, but I didn't know anything much about her, except that she was a jazz or blues singer.

Then maybe a couple of years ago I heard something that I thought was a bit... horrific, for lack of a better word right now. There's aNina Simone biopic coming out and they picked Zoe Saldana of all people to play her. Here's one of the photographs of Zoe and Nina Simone side by side.

So. I already knew Zoe had to wear a prosthetic nose for the part. I just knew they had to slather her in dark makeup, and my thoughts on that were correct after seeing this picture.

You mean to tell me that, with all these black actresses out here, that they couldn't find someone better for the part? Even Zoe said she didn't feel right for the part. Why did she take it, then. Sigh.

She is the bankable black star right now. She's the majority's idea of black beauty. Nothing wrong with that, I suppose. If she pulls this off, it will be masterful, akin to Jamie Foxx playing a perfect Ray Charles. I want to see the movie, but I will have let to let ya'll see it first and let me know how it is before I spend my money.

I would've like to have see Viola Davis or Angela Bassett play the part. They are much better actresses. Oh, and the actress who played young Ray Charles' mother would have been great.

I was neither here nor there about this.

That was, until I watched the Nina Simone documentary What Happened, Miss Simone?

That's available exclusively on NetFlix.

Did any of you see that?


It should have been titled  "What the hell happened, Nina Simone?"

My goodness. That was some pure craziness. CRAZY!!!!

I watched it, and was O_O. But I watched it a couple more times, and I thought it was BRILLIANT.

Why? Because it was look into a star's personal life. Let me correct that: it was a look into the back closets and hiding places of a star's life. Nina Simone had  A LOT  going on. She was bipolar, manic depressive, an abuser, a victim of abuse. And she didn't really want to do jazz or blues. All she wanted to be was a black female classic pianist. She just wanted to play Bach. So it was sad to see that thread of lost hope running through the course of her life.

It makes me think of my own life. I better be vigilant about pursuing my purpose. Don't get to the end of life and wish things could have gone differently. Regret has to be one of the worse emotions ever. Ugh. 

And Nina Simone's voice is very authentic, something akin to Tina Turner's voice.  You know what I'm talkinng I'm wondering if Zoe can pull THAT off. If so, my hat off to her. That's an Oscar performance. Maybe that is why she took the role. Who knows.

But the documentary is worth seeing. It's only available on Netflix. I hope it becomes available on DVD. I will buy a copy for my shelf. And I will buy copies for friends. It was that good. I've watched it three times, and I need to watch  it a few more times just to digest it fully.

One of the more interesting quotes from the documentary.  Someone was interviewing her, and they asked her what the word "Freedom" means. She said it was just a feeling. She said it's like trying to describe to someone how it felt to be in love. You can't describe  But she turned to the interviewer and said something profound:

"I'll tell you what freedom is to me: No fear!"


No fear.

That's a heckuva way to describe it.  I will always remember that.

If you have Netflix, then get it. Tayari and gal Val (Serenity23) were telling me about it. That's the biggest reason I watched it. If they enjoyed it, it must be good.

It's worth getting the 30 day free trial, though. Netflix is doing some ground breaking stuff.

Here's one of Nina Simone's more popular songs. "To Be Young, Gifted, and Black"


  1. I have the documentary saved on Netflix to watch. I'll check it out tonight.

  2. I plan on watching during some of my travels this year. Heard it was good.

  3. Nina Simone's documentary sounds interesting. I might check it out.

  4. Sounds interesting .. I will have to check it out.

  5. Thanks for telling me about this, I will be watching it Saturday. I don't know anything about Nina Simone.

  6. I watched it a few weeks ago. I was intrigued and saddened. Her ex-husband turned my stomach during his interview. He didn't seem after by his admitted abuse.

  7. I will definitely check this out.


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