All Articles Tagged "nina simone"

Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood: Nina Simone’s Heirs In Another Legal Battle With Sony

May 22nd, 2015 - By Ann Brown
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Nina Simone in 2002. Jimi Celeste/Getty Images

Nina Simone in 2002. Jimi Celeste/Getty Images

Nina Simone’s heirs are going to battle against her former music label, Sony Music. According to the legendary singer’s estate, the company is operating a piracy ring. According to court documents filed by the estate, 80 albums of recorded Simone performances are being sold via iTunes and other digital venues without authorization.

This tug-of-war between the estate and Sony has been going on for a while. At one point it seemed the dispute over Simone song rights was resolved last fall, but it has now escalated.

The family claims that Sony is pirating the songs through Orchard, a distributor of independent recordings which feeds tunes to Apple’s iTunes store, Google Play,, and others. In March Sony acquired Orchard for $200 million.

There have been many legal fights over Simone rights, particularly between Steven Ames Brown, an attorney who represented Simone, and Andrew Stroud, Simone’s former husband, manager, and producer. “In the midst of the fighting, Sony got involved because its predecessor RCA had contracts with the singer that date back to 1966,” reports Billboard.

But last October, Sony Music, Brown, and the Simone estate came to a settlement deal. However two weeks ago, Sony Music filed a claim in court to rescind the agreement because the other parties allegedly didn’t live up to their part of the deal. According to Sony, Brown believed that only reproduction rights had been given to Sony; this would limit Sony’s use of the singer’s music.

In response, Brown and the Simone estate made copyright infringement claims against Sony and Orchard regarding more than 80 albums of recorded Nina Simone performances that have been uploaded to digital outlets without authorization.

Brown and the Simone estate also don’t like Sony’s authorization of tribute albums or how “Simone’s name and likeness” is being used for “recordings made by other recording artists.”

Brown and the Simone estate want an injunction that would stop “Orchard from exploiting Simone’s music, a declaration that Sony can’t enjoy anything of the $84 million judgment against Stroud’s estate, and additional general and exemplary damages over additional claims that cover whether Sony has breached contract,” reports Billboard.

Still Relevant: Jazmine Sullivan Covers Nina Simone’s “Baltimore”

May 5th, 2015 - By Veronica Wells
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Jazmine Sullivan Covers Nina Simone's "Baltimore"

If you think 2015 is the first time the citizens of the city of Baltimore have risen up, think again. From the end of World War II and 1968 the Black citizens have Baltimore had suffered. There was a serious case of “White flight,” and the city, where many of the Black residents remained, was depleted. Black communities, much like today, had subpar housing, high infant mortality rates, fewer jobs and thus, more crime. Black Baltimore unemployment, at the time, was more than double the national average. Those who were employed worked in unsafe conditions or were paid less.

Then on April 4, 1968, there was an injustice much like the death of Freddie Gray. Dr. King was assassinated. During the memorial there was peace and then the rage set in. Windows were broken, fires were started. Police and the national guard moved in. By the end six people had died, 700 were injured, 1000 small businesses were damaged or robbed and 5,800 people were arrested.

The uprising inspired Nina Simone to return after a four-year recording hiatus to release the 1978 album Baltimore. 

For those who are unfamiliar with the song, Simone says,

The city is dying 

And they don’t know why

And then…

Oh, Baltimore

Ain’t it hard just to live 

A couple of weeks ago, we told you about the new Nina Simone documentary coming to Netflix and contemporary R&B vocalist Jazmine Sullivan is recording a cover of the original and there’s a video for her rendition that is quite poignant.

You can listen to Nina Simone’s original and watch and listen to Jazmine Sullivan’s beneath it. Both are sadly beautiful and extremely reflective of the times in which we live.

She Was Brilliant And She Paid For It: A Nina Simone Documentary Is Coming To Netflix

April 29th, 2015 - By Veronica Wells
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We’ve written before about the complexity of the artist and activist we knew as Nina Simone. And while we reported that a documentary about her life was coming to Netflix, now there is a trailer and release date attached to the project.

The film, What Happened, Miss Simone?, directed by Liz Garbus, will include never-before-heard recordings, archival footage, interviews, diary entires, letters and interviews with Nina’s daughter Lisa Simone Kelly.

You may remember last year, Lisa said, “My mother could be a monster. I was not a happy child when I was alone with her. My mum shot me down a lot, attacked me in public. It is easy to attack children, they are small and depend on you.” 

In the trailer for the documentary, Lisa applauded her mother’s talent, calling her one of the greatest entertainers to ever live. And in addition to that, she noted that Simone used her talent and her voice to fight for Black people. Lisa said, “She was a revolutionary, she found a purpose for the stage.”

Yet, there was another side to her. “When the show ended, she was alone, full of anger and rage.”

In the trailer, we hear Nina herself say, “I have to live with Nina and that is so difficult.”

Take a look at the trailer below and get ready to explore an extraordinary life.

The documentary will be released on Netflix, on Friday, June 26.

Netflix Will Produce A Nina Simone Documentary

December 7th, 2014 - By Courtney Whitaker
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For all of our Nina Simone fans out there, we have some great news!

Netflix and the Nina Simone Estate will release a new film titled “What Happened, Miss Simon?”. The film will premiere on Netflix in 2015 and will be directed by Liz Garbus. The VP of Original Documentary Programming for Netflix said

“In ‘What Happened, Miss Simone?,’ Liz Garbus paints a brave and provocative picture of Nina Simone  – artist, civil rights activist and heroine – in a film that we’ve loved from day one and are proud to bring to our viewers around the world,”

According to Indiewire,

Liz Garbus’ film will interweave never-before-heard recordings and rare archival footage together with Nina’’s most memorable songs, incorporating never-before-heard audio tapes, recorded over the course of 3 decades, of Nina telling her life story to various interviewers and would-be biographers. Rare concert footage and archival interviews, along with diaries, letters, interviews with Nina’’s daughter, Lisa Simone Kelly, friends and collaborators, along with other exclusive materials, will make this the most authentic, personal, and unflinching telling of the extraordinary life of one of the 20th Century’s greatest recording artists – a portrait of one of the “least understood, yet most beloved, artists of our time.”

This announcement comes after fans voiced their discomfort with Zoe Saldana playing the artist in “Nina.” Saldana was pictured in a wig with a prosthetic nose and makeup to darken her features.

The Nina Simone Estate and her daughter openly expressed their displeasure with the film. In an interview with the New York times, Simone Kelly stated, “My mother was raised at a time when she was told her nose was too wide, her skin was too dark. Appearance-wise this is not the best choice,” she said.

As for that film, it was screened at Cannes and is tied up in a major lawsuit with it’s director. We cannot wait for “What Happened, Miss Simon?” to hit our computer screens in 2015.

“My Mother Could Be A Monster” Nina Simone’s Daughter Tells The Truth About Her Mother

July 16th, 2014 - By Veronica Wells
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During her life, Nina Simone was no stranger to controversy. And now it seems, even years after her death in 2003, there is still some resentment and hurt behind her legacy. But this time, the person with grievances is Simone’s only child, daughter Lisa Celeste Stroud.

Stroud, the product of Simone’s abusive marriage to her former manager Andrew Stroud, became a singer and actress and took the moniker Simone with her on stage. But recently, in an interview with the Daily Mail, she made it crystal clear that there are lingering scars from the strained and often abusive relationship she shared with her mother.

Lisa Stroud told the Daily Mail that her mother suffered from depression and alcoholism which resulted in a tortured relationship between the two. It wasn’t until the late eighties that she was also diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

In her first time speaking about the relationship with her mom she said,

“My mother could be a monster. I was not a happy child when I was alone with her. My mum shot me down a lot, attacked me in public. It is easy to attack children, they are small and depend on you.”

When Simone died at 70, several family issues surfaced as they battled in the courts trying to settle her multi-million dollar estate.

Stroud said: “Ugly truths have come to and relationships have died because people treated me as a commodity. Too many people had ulterior motives.”

And after her less than normal childhood, it wasn’t an experience she was willing to repeat. As a young girl, Lisa recalls being dragged around the world touring with her mother and when she complained or refused to go, she was blackmailed or beaten. Her life had very little stability. By the age of seven, she had 13 governesses, was working by the age of 10, her mother’s chauffeur at 12. And at 14, she left her home after a beating.

When she got older, Simone did not support Lisa’s desire to join the U.S. Air Force or enter the music business and she disinherited her from her will.

Stroud said, “I’d like to think if she had taken two seconds to think about her behavior she would have done things differently but I’m not sure.”

In an attempt to explain her mother’s behavior Lisa says, “My mother was angry with the world and often the only person around to blame was me.”

She also spoke about the nature of her parent’s relationship. “When my parents were together my mother was more giving and open but with the divorce she turned into someone you didn’t want to know.”

Sadly, Lisa’s relationship with her father wasn’t great either.

“I had nothing to do with my father before his death.”

Stroud’s father Andrew, who married Simone in 1961, died just two years ago in 2012. It’s a well know fact that Stroud, a former firefighter, managed Nina with beatings to keep her in line.

When Simone left him, by simply leaving her wedding ring behind and moving to Barbados, she took Lisa with her. In the island, she had an affair with the married Prime minister Errol Barrow. When their relationship ended and he basically got rid of Simone, Lisa had to deal with the aftermath.

“I got my first job in Barbados. I was 10 or 11, old enough to file papers. I had no option.”

While in the Caribbean, Simone lost control of her business affairs and was fighting the IRS. In response, she moved to Liberia at the invitation of Miriam Makeba.

It was there that Stroud was a her happiest.

“I went to school there and I lived with a surrogate family. But then my mother decided to join me and it went downhill. At 12 I ended up driving around on my own in a Pontiac Catalina running errands. I had to grow up fast.’”

“It Did Affect Me”: Zoe Saldana Says She Was Really Bothered By Attacks Over Nina Simone Biopic

July 3rd, 2014 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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zoe saldana lands l'oreal


In the span of a month, Zendaya Coleman nabbed the role of Aaliyah in the Lifetime biopic, Aaliyah: Princess of R&B, defended herself against a heavy dose of online criticism, and then bowed out of the project this past weekend. While there is only speculation that the family’s strong opposition to the project might have had something to do with her decision to hit the exit, one can’t help but wonder if it was also the discouragement of many Aaliyah fans and those in the general public that would make the 17-year-old want to bail on a film that could have been major for her career. 

Someone else who has had to deal with backlash from the public when it comes to being cast in a biopic is Zoe Saldana. For the past year and a half, Saldana has been given the side-eye from Nina Simone fans, many of which, thought that her complexion was too light to play the chanteuse and pianist in the biopic, Nina, including Simone’s own daughter and singer India Arie. She tried to keep her head high despite the attacks, and said that the film was made out of love. But now that the film’s release has been put on hold due to a lawsuit from director Cynthia Mort, Saldana told Monarch Magazine that in reality, all of the comments about her, made in opposition to her casting as Simone, really did irk her, but that she tried not to let people’s criticisms keep her from doing a film she really wanted to: 

Nina was a true genius and an iconic artist. It was a dream job for me.

I did a lot of research to prepare for Nina. I took piano lessons, voice lessons, worked with a dialect coach, and I really invested months of just doing research about Nina – her background, her story, her life. My research ranged from reading books about Nina, listening to her music, watching footage of her.

The Nina Simone story needed to be told, and I’m really blessed that I did it. I’m human. I wish I was made of steel and so certain things wouldn’t affect me. So it did affect me but I couldn’t let that deter me from doing what I needed to do. Just like everybody else I feel very strongly about Nina Simone, and that [this] was a story that needed to be told. I do believe that if everybody had more information about how this all came to be, it might help; but then again, I’m not here to get the acceptance of everyone – I’m here to be an artist first. Hopefully people will enjoy the film and I helped shed some light on this amazing iconic woman.

Whenever this movie finally gets released to see the light of day, personally, I’ll be interested in seeing what kind of work Saldana was able to do. But what about you? 

Zendaya As Aaliyah? Zoe As Nina? 15 Controversial Casting Choices

June 20th, 2014 - By Meghan Williams
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When it comes to casting roles some actors seem tailor made for the parts they’re given – think Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles in Ray, Denzel Washington as Alonzo Harris in Training Day and Angela Bassett as Tina Turner in What’s Love Got to Do With It. But every once in a while casting directors make controversial choices that are sometimes a success and sometimes a complete fail. Here are 15 controversial casting choices that raised some eyebrows and really got people talking.

Controversial Casting Choices

Source: WENN

Zendaya Coleman as Aaliyah

Earlier this week, news broke that Disney star Zendaya Coleman had been cast to play Aaliyah in a new Lifetime biopic, and the controversy has already been real… and relentless. Though the 17-year old is a pretty talented singer and dancer, everyone seems to be wondering whether she looks enough like Aaliyah and if her acting chops are even good enough for the role.

And of course the fact that Aaliyah’s family is upset about the movie being created in the first place isn’t helping Zendaya’s cause at all.

“I Can’t Stop To Think About Who Thinks Me To Be Black Enough Or Not Black Enough”: Zoe Saldana On Playing Nina Simone And Being Latina

December 6th, 2013 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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Zoe Saldana

Zoe Saldana is covering the latest issue of Ocean Drive magazine, and in the latest issue, the beauty was asked about her work in the upcoming film Nina, which we all know has stirred up a lot of controversy. Despite all the people who were upset about Saldana being cast as the late Nina Simone because of their physical differences, the movie is in post-production and Saldana feels good about it. The actress says that she no longer pays attention to the naysayers who have something to say about the way she looks or the way she carries herself, and she hasn’t cared for a long time–since she was a kid to be specific.

When asked about filming Nina, Saldana had this to say:

“It’s one of the scariest projects I’ve ever been involved with because it was about an iconic figure, and there were so many political [issues] around it from the beginning, but I really wanted it to be a love song to Nina Simone and I wanted it to just come from a place of absolute love.”

And she shut down any criticism about her work in the movie. While most people felt that from her complexion to her size and her facial features, she wasn’t a good fit to play Simone, Saldana took it as a someone saying she is or isn’t black enough in physical appearance or in the way she acts–but she doesn’t have time for that:

“I can’t stop to think about who thinks me to be black enough or not black enough. I know who I am. I like who I am. And I’m not going to explain who I am. I’ve always been like that—I was raised to be that way.”

Zaldana, of Puerto Rican and Dominican background, says she’s used to people criticizing and bullying her for how she is and what she looks like, and faced this most when she was a child living in the Dominican Republic. She had to move there with her mother and sisters after her father passed away. But she says that after she realized most people only attack others because they’re fearful, she became “absolutely fearless:”

“It was culture shock at first. Kids are going to poke at whatever is foreign to them, and here we come: these three girls speaking English. We’re also very intelligent and kind of sassy, and we were going to a very prestigious private school and we were one of the least fortunate families. Kids tend to be a little cruel to what they don’t know. But even though throughout those years we kind of suffered because we got bullied, as soon as we left we just became these forces. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and it was not going to kill us, trust me!

I’ve been called everything, I’ve been told everything. And yet the moment you realize they were coming from a place of complete fear because they knew that you were the one who was going to get away, you’re free.”

She calls it fearless, others have called it “arrogance.” But whatever Saldana is, she’s winning in Hollywood. Check out her full interview over at Ocean Drive’s website. What do you make of her statements, and do you plan to see Nina?


Say It Ain’t So: Nina Simone’s Daughter Accused Of Stealing Millions From Late Singer’s Estate

November 25th, 2013 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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Source: AP

Source: AP

Lisa Simone Kelly, born Lisa Celeste Shroud, has always been vocal and done what she can to protect her mother’s image, but sources claim the same can’t be said about protecting Nina Simone’s money.

According to TMZ, the daughter of the late singer is being accused of taking more than $2 million from her mother’s estate and using it for a range of things, including putting some money into an account for a company Ms. Kelly owns. The California Attorney General says money from Simone’s estate was supposed to go to fund music schools in South Africa, Ghana and Liberia, according to Simone’s wishes. However, they say that hasn’t happened because Kelly, who is the trustee of her mother’s estate, giving her access to all of Simone’s money, has used the money for other things. The biggest violation according to the Attorney General includes using $1.5 million to put into her own separate business. According to TMZ, the California Attorney General “is now demanding an accounting of funds — which could result in criminal action.” The attorney general also reportedly wants Kelly to step down from her post as trustee of the legendary soul singer’s estate because of such allegations against her.

Kelly is a singer/songwriter who was very vocal with her disappointment that Zoe Saldana was cast to play her mother in the upcoming Nina Simone biopic. The role was originally supposed to be given to Mary J. Blige (she stepped down due to scheduling issues), and Kelly said she would have preferred to see Viola Davis or Kimberly Elise take on her mother’s image. Hopefully Kelly will respond to such accusations because we’re hoping that they’re not true. We will keep you posted on any responses she gives.


Nina Simone’s Estate Sues HTC For $1 Million

September 30th, 2013 - By Jazmine Denise Rogers
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Nina Simone

Source: NewsOne

Even in death, stars are at risk of being ripped off by major corporations. Last week we told you that the mother of slain rapper Tupac, Afeni Shakur, will be dragging eOne Music to court for allegedly failing to pay royalties to her son’s estate for his posthumous album, Beginnings The Lost Tapes: 1980 – 1991. The family of Nina Simone may also be in court soon, fighting to defend the High Priestess of Soul’s estate.

TMZ is reporting that Nina’s family is suing Taiwanese smart phone manufacturer, HTC, for $1 million. According to filed court documents, the corporation used the instrumental from Nina’s 1965 hit, “Sinnerman,” for one of their “You” campaign television commercials, without obtaining the rights to do so.

HTC has yet to comment on the copyright infringement suit, but it doesn’t really seem like there’s much that they could really say at this point. The proof seems to be in the pudding. As usual, we will continue to keep you posted as this story develops.

Check out the commercial below. What are your thoughts on the family’s lawsuit?