Instead, Kelly, trustee of the late singing legend’s estate, stands accused by the California Attorney General of keeping $1.5 million of her mom’s money — reportedly allotted for music schools in South Africa, Liberia and Ghana — and funneling the fortune into her personal company without authorization, reports TMZ.
Further, due to the alleged fraud, she has been pressured to step down as trustee and may face legal repercussions.
Nina Simone was born Eunice Kathleen Waymon. She collected a considerable musical catalog in her career that include hits like “Sinnerman” and “Strange Fruit” (the latter of which was sampled by Kanye West for Yeezus). In 1993 she moved to Southern France and passed away in her sleep there in 2003, following a lengthy battle with breast cancer.
Zoe Saldana will star in her biopic on the big screen. The casting met with enormous controversy over the Dominican actress’s lighter skin tone. Earthy singer India Arie was among the critics who posted on Simone’s website.
“So today I saw the images of Zoe Saldana as Nina Simone … AND I THINK THEY ARE RIDICULOUS,” she wrote. “Yes there should be a movie made, and YES they should have chosen someone who LOOKS like Nina Simone, ESPECIALLY since her RACE played such a PIVOTAL role in WHO, WHAT and WHY, she was.”
Kelly, who took similar issue with the casting told Ebony, “As an actress I respect her process, but I also know that there are many other actresses out there … who would be great as my mother.”
Like her mother, Kelly is also a performer, and is noted as, ”her own woman: a singer, songwriter and performer whose ability to transcend genres echoes the tradition of her mother, musical icon Nina Simone,” according to her Facebook page. She recently performed a handful of shows in France that wrapped Sunday (Nov. 24).
*Did anyone ask Nina Simone’s only daughter what she thinks about the whole biopic thing?
Recently, Mary J. Blige was kicked off the roster as the main star and replaced with not so fitting Zoe Saldana. Fans were outraged at the announcement and were actually confused. The part just doesn’t fit.
In an interview with the one who goes by the name ‘Simone,’ she explains that someone else would be better suited to play her mama.
“I love Zoe Saldana’s work. I’ve seen some of her movies more than once and really enjoy what she brings to the screen,” she said. “As an actress I respect her process, but I also know that there are many actresses out there, known or not, who would be great as my mother. The one actress that I’ve had in my heart for a very long time, whose work I’m familiar with already, is Kimberly Elise. Many people have spoken to me about Viola. I love her look. I love her energy. Both of the actresses that I’ve mentioned are women of color, are women with beautiful, luscious lips and wide noses, and who know their craft. I also have no problem introducing someone we’ve never heard of before who can play my mother.”
She also divulged that she’s had very little to do with the process and doesn’t really know why. In fact ‘Simone’ is quite concerned being that none of the family has been consulted about the whole bit. She and other members of the family have even offered stories and connections, but have been downright shut down.
“If any of us tried to take the story of Bing Crosby or, Dean Martin, or Frank Sinatra, or Elvis Presley and turn it into something that was a tall tale based on something that never happened, I doubt that we’d get very far,” she lamented.
*As we reported, the troubled Nina Simone movie project has been going through some changes. In fact, the latest change was replacing singer Mary J. Blige with actress Zoe Saldana.
Truth is folks weren’t feeling Mary J and and don’t seem to all that pleased with Zoe, either. Now, Nina Simone’s daughter, Broadway star and singer Simone (nee: Lisa Celeste Stroud) via her mother’s Facebook page, is speaking out about the situation as well. One of the things she reveals is the fact that the film is unauthorized.
Greetings Nina Simone Lovers, Simone here.
I have read many of the comments am happy you all took the time to share your thoughts and feelings.
When the announcement initially hit the press with MJ Blige cast as Nina (about 6 yrs ago) I heard it along with everyone else. The story was written as a love story between my mother and her former nurse, Clifton Henderson and primarily takes place during the last 8 years of her life.
Please note, this project is unauthorized. The Nina Simone Estate was never asked permission nor invited to participate.
I have seen many names regarding who you think should play the role of Nina. Remember Angela Bassett as Tina Turner? SHE NAILED IT! Angela Bassett is an ACTRESS! And, we all know she lip synced along with Tina and did an amazing job. Personally, I prefer an actress to a singer. Just because a person is great at one does not mean they will be great at the other. If written, funded and CAST PROPERLY a movie about my mother will make an lasting imprint.
My vision of a movie about my mother includes SO many pivotal moments that are monumentally important towards relaying the journey of a woman whose journey began as a child prodigy born in North Carolina in the 1930′s…too many to list here but, trust when I say the tale will inspire through the sheer sharing of HOW Eunice Waymon became Nina Simone, The High Priestess Of Soul renowned worldwide. How many of you know my mother’s FIRST love was classical music? Do you know the hours she practiced preparing to audition for the Curtis Institute of Music only to be rejected because of the color of her skin? **After my mother made her transition I accepted a diploma from that very same institute with a speech she began writing but was unable to finish prior to her death.**
As a child, my mother was told her nose was too big and she was too dark yet she graduated valedictorian of her high school class – The Allen School for Girls – AND, skipped two grades. Nina was one of the most outspoken, prolifically gifted artists using the stage to speak out against racism during the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960′s. Her friends included Betty Shabazz, Lorraine Hansberry (my godmother), Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, Miriam Makeba, Stokely Carmichael, Presidents, Prime Ministers, Kings and Queens worldwide. Had she become a classical pianist, which was her dream….shattered, I doubt she would have found her true destiny. Nina Simone was a voice for her people and she spoke out HONESTLY, sang to us FROM HER SOUL, shared her joy, pain, anger and intelligence poetically in a style all her own. My mother stood up for justice, by any means necessary hahahaha YES, she was a revolutionary til the day she died. From Tragedy to Transcendence – MY VISION. The whole arc of her life which is inspirational, educational, entertaining and downright shocking at times is what needs to be told THE RIGHT WAY.
By the way:
Clifton Henderson was gay. He was not attracted to women. So, the truth is…Nina Simone and Clifton Henderson NEVER had a relationship other than a business one.
Please correct me, but isn’t a biopic the story of one’s life?
I have faith things will work out the right way and my mother’s real story will be told. For all she endured while here and all of the lives she has touched, she DESERVES to be remembered for who she truly was; not some made up love story from a former nurse/manager (now deceased) who sold his life rights because of his relationship to Nina Simone.
*NEW YORK, NY – On Sunday, May 8 (Mother’s Day), Simone, the only child and daughter of legendary music artist Nina Simone and the only person qualified and artistically capable of carrying on her mother’s legacy, will re-launch www.NinaSimone.com to share with the world – the mother and the artist – from a daughter’s perspective through the redesigned web site.
Simone will be honoring her Mother this year by capturing the milestones in her mother’s career, as well as the peaks and valleys of her celebrated life. In addition to intimate details and personal stories, www.NinaSimone.com will fully explore the many nuances and flavors that made up the more than 40 original albums in the Nina Simone library.
The site will also feature “Nina Simone Radio,” a 24 hour/7 day-a-week internet radio station providing hundreds of recordings spanning over four decades, interviews and special guest commentary.
Other additions to the site will include unreleased Nina recordings, archived video performances and an expanded photo gallery with previously unpublished photos of Nina behind the scenes and on-stage.
An icon of American music and one of the most extraordinary artists of the twentieth century, Eunice Kathleen Waymon was born on February 21, 1933. She was a classically trained pianist, the consummate musical storyteller, a griot as she would come to learn, who used her remarkable talent to create a legacy of liberation, empowerment, passion, and love through a magnificent body of work. She earned the moniker ‘High Priestess of Soul’ for she could weave a spell so seductive and hypnotic that the listener lost track of time and space as they became absorbed in the moment. She was who the world would come to know as Nina Simone.
When Nina Simone died on April 21, 2003, she left a timeless treasure trove of musical magic spanning over 40 years from her first hit, the 1959 Top 10 classic I Loves You Porgy, to A Single Woman, the title cut from her one and only 1993 Elektra album. While thirty-three years separate those recordings, the element of honest emotion is the glue that binds the two together – it is that approach to every piece of work that became Nina’s uncompromising musical trademark.
“The vision I’ve always held, with regards to my mother’s legacy, is finally gaining momentum,” stated Simone. “NinaSimone.com will allow fans around the world to have access to her life, enjoy her music and revel in her message like never before. Mommy’s legacy continues and this is just the beginning.”
Among other popular recordings are Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood, I Put A Spell On You, Four Women (whereby Simone recorded a newer version of her mother’s original classic for the movie soundtrack “For Colored Girls), Nina’s own anthem of empowerment, the classic To Be Young, Gifted, & Black, and Feeling Good which was recently covered by pop diva Jennifer Hudson.
In addition to being the executor of the Nina Simone estate and her mother’s biggest fan, Simone is her own woman, a singer, songwriter and performer whose ability to transcend genres echoes the tradition of her mother. Blessed with a rich vocal range, an innate skill for lyrical interpretation and a soul-deep understanding of music as a means of healing, empowerment and celebration, Simone is very much her mother’s daughter. She is most assuredly a multi-talented artist in her own right.
Simone has many exciting projects in development for release over the next year including a double Nina Simone CD, which Simone will produce; Simone’s own second CD release; and an “I Put a Spell on You” European tour.
*The last time we published part of our conversation with Simone, daughter of the late Nina Simone, she addressed a commonly held belief in the media that her mother was a drug addict.
This was made doubly upsetting for Simone when she read quotes from the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul, Mary J. Blige, who reiterated this belief when asked how she and Nina Simone compared to one another while discussing her role in an upcoming film about the late entertainer/activist.
This sparked a tiny bit of controversy as readers of EURweb.com emailed us defending Simone’s memory of her mother, and Mary J. Blige as well. This time around it’s not about any of that. It’s only about the beautiful singing voice of Simone herself.
As mentioned in that article, Simone has recorded her mother’s song “Four Women,” alongside Ledisi, Laura Izabora and featuring the vocals of Nina Simone herself. She’s also working on a follow up to the largely slept on classic jazz offering “Simone on Simone.” Here, she talks about recording her mother’s work.
“My mom wrote (‘Four Women’) back in the 60s, and she sang it alone,” Simone told EURweb’s Lee Bailey. “One of the concepts that was presented as this song came up as a possibility for the movie, was why don’t we get four separate women? But they didn’t know that I had been doing that concept for about four years already. Their idea was to bring in other things so that each of us could be one of the four women. Ledisi, Izabora, myself and Mommy is actually bringing us on home.”
Those that are fans of the works of Nina Simone know of “Four Women.” Though she wrote it for herself, the song lends itself to four women in almost a theatrical way.
“The first time I ever did it was at Carnegie Hall with Odetta, God rest her soul, Tracey Chapman, Liz Wright and myself, that was in 2004,” said Simone. “Last year I went out with Diane Reed, Liz Wright, and Angelique Kodjoe. We closed the show with that song. This spring it was Patti Austin, because Angelique couldn’t make it.
“There are four of us characters, I guess. We’re performing the song along with Mommy. The song is about four women, each of them looks differently,” she continued. “Each verse is about how their hair is different, their skin is different, their background is different. It’s made for four different characters to do it. I’m like ‘Wow Mommy, get down! You didn’t realize that when you were writing it, but it’s perfect!’”
While the song is the perfect selection for four women to sing on the soundtrack, Simone says she knows she wasn’t one of those four women from the beginning. But she has an idea of how they came to around.
“I administer my mother’s estate so they actually came to me for synchronization and that’s how it all got started,” the singer told EURweb.com “I can only tell you what I heard through the background because their initial conversation was not with me. The record label was like ‘Hey, why don’t we get four different women to do this song?’ And my manager was like ‘Dude, Simone has been doing this for 5 years!’”
And you all know the rest. The soundtrack for “For Colored Girls” is slated for release November 2nd and features selections from Lalah Hathaway, Estelle, Janelle Monae, Gladys Knight, Leona Lewis and Simone, of course in addition to many others. Besides appearing on the soundtrack Simone has been working to bring her own CD out as well.
“I am currently working on my second CD and I am very, very pleased with the direction we are going in,” she told us. “I would describe my debut as your classic jazz from back in the day. It was my way of paying homage to my mother and most of those arrangements were with an actual big band. A lot of them were my favorite songs. Unlike a lot of people I know in the industry, I’ve turned around and embraced who I am and where I come from and give my mother a bow … because she’s the one who went before me. So after having done that, now I can finally get to myself and what I want to do … my own message. The project I’m doing right now is a little different than ‘Simone on Simone,’ but it’s still classical. My heart is in folk and blues, R&B and church, but the more I immerse myself within the business of the music industry I realized that everything is kind of strategic. Once you get your foot in the door and reach certain levels you get to do anything you want. Right now, I don’t want to be just another R&B sister that’s out there singing. I don’t want to be compared to a lot of the famous, successful singers that are out there right now.”
*EURweb.com tries its best to be on top of all the most happening entertainment issues as they pertain to our urban readership.
With that in mind, it was our pleasure to have spoken with Simone about her covering her legendary mother’s classic song “Four Women,” along with Ledesi, Laura Izibor and of course vocals from Nina Simone herself, for the highly-anticipated Tyler Perry film “For Colored Girls.”
Some of our readers are familiar with the songstress through the powerful legacy left behind by her venerable mother who R&B mainstay Mary J. Blige is slated to play in a upcoming film.
The conversation took a turn in a different direction when we asked Simone her opinion of recent statements made by Mary J. in which she is quoted as saying the late legendary Nina Simone was a “drug addict” when asked what she and the late entertainer/activist had in common.
The air stood still for a time following Lee Bailey’s query.
“Yes I was sitting here praying as you said that because I was saying ‘I hope the right thing would come out my mouth’,” she joked. “All I can say is if you’re going to do a movie about a great public figure I think it behooves you as a person who has decided this is what they want to do, to do their due research so that you can embody the character and bring the most that you can of their personality to the screen. After having read Mary J. Blige’s comments (yesterday) that just kind of capped off (in my mind) that I don’t think that’s been done.”
Unlike many children of famous celebrities, Simone is filled with respect and admiration for her deceased mother. It was also clear that she would correct anyone she feels is disseminating incorrect information. That was made crystal clear by what she had to say next.
“That’s very disappointing and disconcerting for me because now information is being put out that is not true. My mother was not a drug addict,” she continued. “She was many things but a drug addict is not one of them. That’s the best way that I can put it right now. I’m attempting to reach out to her so that maybe through us sitting down and talking she can get a better idea of who my mother was, what made her tick and why she did the things that she did. I don’t know who she’s been talking to or whose been talking to her, but obviously we need to get together.”
“My mother was very complex,” admitted Simone. “She’s been dead now … this coming April, 2011 will be eight years. Since my mother passed away what was left of the rose colored glasses of my childhood died with her. As the administrator of her estate, a mother, business woman and entertainer I’m walking very closely in her footsteps. In the last eight years I’d like to think that I’ve gained a much deeper understanding of her. She was mommy all my life where as now she’s Nina: the woman, the person, the human being. And it’s really helped me heal these past eight years.”
Now that we’re all aware of what’s not true regarding the extensive legacy Nina Simone, what exactly is true?
“My mom, from the time she was a child, was trained for the stage,” she explained. “Classical music was her first love and, when you think of the fact that at the time she was dealing with segregation, lynchings and God knows what else. Here you have this brownie colored girl who was always told ‘your lips are too big, your nose is too wide and you’re too dark’. She worked toward a dream for 15 years trying to become a classical pianist only to have been rejected because of her skin color. Can imagine working that long towards one goal only to have it shatter in your face and having to pick up the pieces and figure out the direction you’re going to go in next? Obviously destiny had another plan. After she began singing in Atlantic City and became famous and went on from there her destiny was to speak out for her people. Her destiny was to do a heck of a lot more in terms of our history and our civil rights in this country than classical music would have a afforded her. But she paid a huge price for the gifts that she had, she paid a huge price for the choices that she made. My mother was one of the loneliest people that I knew. She was an artist who was amazingly gifted and left us with some pearls that will go down in history. However, she was not fulfilled or at peace because she didn’t know how to just be. She was always working towards something. In the understanding I’ve gained of her I ask myself, what would I have done in that situation? What would any of us have done in that situation?”
Though the late Nina Simone’s daughter is a singer/actress, she is also the staunch guardian of her mother’s legacy. In this age of Internet blogs, Wikipedia and soundbyte sized news it’s very easy for the wrong information to slip through. But Simone is not about to see her mother’s legacy become misunderstood.
“I think she was extremely courageous and I think she’s at peace right now,” said the younger Simone, becoming noticebly emotional. “So, when people like Mary J. Blige make the statements like she’s making it behooves me as my mother’s daughter and the administrator of her estate to correct any untruths that are spoken. Mommy’s life was difficult enough. She had enough shit she had to deal with and enough monikers attached to her.”
“For Colored Girls” is slated to hit theaters nationwide on November 5th and the soundtrack, to be released on Atlantic Records, will feature the legendary Gladys Knight, Estelle, Anika Noni Rose, and Simone, of course.
We will have more from Simone in an upcoming edition of EUR.