Remembering Nina Simone

by Natasha Wolff | June 30, 2015 5:28 pm

There’s something for every Nina Simone fan to take away from the new, Liz Garbus-directed Netflix release What Happened, Miss Simone?[1] The film features a dizzying array of live performances, private photos, diary entries and interviews that serve to sketch an image of the complicated, incredibly talented singer and the outsized life she lived. One of the most important voices in the film belongs to Lisa Simone Kelly, the daughter of the titular singer, who not only shares memories of her mother on screen but also serves as one of the film’s producers. Here, Kelly selects a favorite image from the movie and explains what is it about it she finds so moving.

“Mom’s happy in the photo; she’s glowing,” Kelly says. “She’s in her sphere, in her element. She’s free.”

This, Kelly says, isn’t often how people remember her mother. But, “when mom was on stage, at least at that point and at that place, she was in a good place,” she says, “and I always gravitate toward images of my mother[2] that depict her being joyful.” 

It’s an image she’s waited a long time to share with the world. “I was trying to do this for 12 years, my mother died 12 years ago, so this is not a new development on any front,” she says. “I made a promise to my mother that I had her back. I made a pledge that I would make sure she was remembered, and I have been working towards that since she died.”

And how does Kelly feel about the final outcome? “I’m singing a song; I am so happy,” she says. “I haven’t really quite found the right adjective to describe my relief, but I am incredibly satisfied.”

  1. What Happened, Miss Simone?:
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