Revue of THE AMAZING NINA SIMONE
Release Date: January 2015
Genre: Documentary /Biography
Directed By: Jeff Lieberman
At the 6th Lights, Camera, Africa Film Festival (2016), which held at the Federal Palace Hotel, Lagos from September 30th to October 2nd quite a number of local and foreign productions but non intrigued as much as Jeff Lieberman’s documentary "The Amazing Nina Simone".
The Amazing Nina Simone is about the life, music and unfortunate demise of the legendary Nina Simone born Eunice Waymon (February 21, 1933 – April 21, 2003). To me, Nina is one of the most amazing musical geniuses to have ever walked this earth; her skills on the piano is next to non with her haunting voice that gives me chills every time I hear it. Her blend of Jazz, Classical and Folk music gave her a unique sound that was never seen and cannot be duplicated.
Jeff Lieberman’s story telling of her life was extraordinary and extremely immersive especially with his interviews with close friends and family, band mates and even associates of Nina that gave an in-depth expression of the life of a musical legend.
However, like most geniuses, Nina had her struggles and dark periods. During the civil rights period of the late 60’s, Nina advocated for violent revolution which did not go down well with the security agencies in the US. Also, Nina seemed to be erratic and was quick to rash behavior but due to the lack of medical knowledge at the time, no one knew she was bipolar. This ailment made Nina a very misunderstood person who endured a lot of pain, sadness and loneliness.
The Amazing Nina Simone is a product of a wealth of research but it was rather unfortunate that Jeff Lieberman was unable to get her only daughter to contribute in the making of the documentary. Nevertheless, I think the story was well told from a variety of angles giving a glimpse into the life of an icon. I am so proud that she even visited Nigeria just after we had our independence and spent quite a while in Africa (specifically in Liberia).
Most people like “I Loves You Porky” or "Feeling Good which are some of her most popular songs, but my favorite Nina song is ‘I Put A Spell On you” ". That song has a way of unnerving me *goose bumps*. That song sounds almost spiritual and otherworldly.
It’s pretty unusual for me to talk about a documentary but I just had to share this with you guys. I really enjoyed attending the film festival and can’t wait for the next edition.
I would like to end this by saying that if you have any mental challenge like depression or hopelessness, don’t die slowly; please talk to someone. You could seek professional help or maybe lean on a close family member or friend who understands. Some people have found reprieve in religion, but remember one thing, you are not alone.