Monday, March 14, 2016

Book Review: "What happened, Miss Simone?" by Alan Light

Nina Simone was a revolutionary musician. Incredibly gifted. But she was also a little mentally unstable and basically the diviast diva that ever diva'd.

But she also is the performer of one of my favorite songs of all time, so I am inclined to let that stuff slide. This is a really great song to sing alone in your car. I do it fairly often.

(Also, quite the dresser....)

Nina Simone is many many things. A lot of them start with the letter C and some are synonyms.







In the same literal sentence she would say that she liked and hated someone.

She loved her daughter but wouldn't be bothered to actually be a mother most of the time.

She seemed to be uncomfortable with the fact a lot of her early fans were from the lesbian bar that she played at, but had at least one same-sex relationship.

She said something to the effect of "I can't support you, I'm a violent person" to Martin Luther King Jr when she met him (he was gracious) but then was LIVID that she hadn't been invited to join his march on Washington.

She was an a amazingly gifted, classically trained piano player who just wanted respect, but when she got into playing the things that made her famous (jazz, protest songs, etc) she was very clear that she would do the least amount of work possible to get paid. (Especially towards the end of her life, if she would be paid to be on stage for an hour she would do a lot of talking to the audience and taking long breaks for the applause between songs so she only had to play 4 or 5 songs).

Nina was all these things and more, and this swift moving, well researched book seems like a pretty unbiased account of all of her happenings. If you are a fan of music or women's history or memoirs or any number of things, I think you will enjoy this.

I received this book in exchange for a fair review from Blogging for Books

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