*Lauryn Hill and Jazmine Sullivan performed at Harlem’s famed Apollo Theatre last week, following the New York premiere of the Netflix documentary “What Happened, Miss Simone?”
Directed by Liz Garbus, the doc marks Netflix’s first commissioned original documentary. It will be released to the streaming service on June 26, and features interviews with Nina’s family, close friends and members of her band. The doc also features archival performance footage and never-before-seen interviews with the late singer.
The doc portrays an artist whose dedication to music was poisoned by the world around her, most notably by her controlling and abusive husband/manager Andrew Stroud. Her last days were crippled by a struggle with mental illness and breast cancer, which inevitably took her life in 2003.
Ms. Lauryn and Jazmine celebrated the Nina’s life, delivering energetic performances before a sold out crowd that included members of Simone’s band (guitarist Al Schackman, bassist Lisle Atkinson and drummer Leopoldo Fleming); Simone’s son-in-law and grandchildren; and famous fans like Usher, Sandra Bernhard and John Leguizamo.
Hill delivered a short set of covers and originals backed by a live band. Yahoo reports that the former Fugees member experienced sound issues and a raspy voice that limited her range, but she invoked the enigmatic fervor that catapulted Simone into the ranks of mainstream royalty, beginning the set with “Ne Me Quitte Pas” and a rousing rendition of “Black Is the Color of My True Love’s Hair.”
Hill also performed a new song inspired by Simone’s “Ain’t Got No, I Got Life.” The song may appear on the upcoming tribute album featuring Hill, Usher, Sullivan, Mary J. Blige, Robert Glasper, Grace and Andra Day.
“She can sing for the both of us,” Hill said of Sullivan, who performed “Baltimore” – a Randy Newman song that Simone covered in the late Seventies.