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What Happened, Miss Simone?

This is not a new documentary. It was released in 2015, but it has made a few “Best Documentaries” of the decade lists and remains a powerful portrait of an immensely talented artist and activist living with a mental illness long before there was much public education and awareness of mental health conditions. When Nina Simone gained popularity, she became a favorite of jazz/blues fans including many celebrities who embraced her deep, soulful style and admired her as a classical piano virtuoso.  Simone was a strong civil rights activist whose involvement progressed into some more radical movements, but it would not do her complex story justice to simply say her temperament grew unpredictable and her career suffered for it. Simone was living with an illness that contributed to her already complex life. This is a biographical and historical documentary for all decades that is the story of a woman’s passion for freedom and civil rights and her personal struggle with life’s sad realties that are complicated by living with a mental health condition at a time of limited understanding and acceptance.

Marianne Mallon, Editor