Inspired by the critically acclaimed Netflix documentary What Happened, Miss Simone?, an intimate and vivid look at the legendary life of Nina Simone, the classically trained pianist who evolved into a chart-topping chanteuse and committed civil rights activist.
From music journalist and former Spin and Vibe editor-in-chief Alan Light comes a biography of incandescent soul singer and Black Power icon Nina Simone, one of the most influential, provocative, and least understood artists of our time. Drawn from a trove of rare archival footage, audio recordings and interviews (including Simone’s remarkable private diaries), this nuanced examination of Nina Simone’s life highlights her musical inventiveness and unwavering quest for equality, while laying bare the personal demons that plagued her from the time of her Jim Crow childhood in North Carolina to her self-imposed exile in Liberia and Paris later in life.
Harnessing the singular voice of Miss Simone herself and incorporating candid reflections from those who knew her best, including her only daughter, Light brings us face to face with a legend, examining the very public persona and very private struggles of one of our greatest artists.
“[Nina Simone’s] willingness to speak her mind shines out of every page of Alan Light’s biography.”
–The Times (UK)
“A probing account of Simone’s inner struggles…Far from detracting from her civil rights heroism, it makes that achievement all the more astonishing.”
–The New York Review of Books
“Simone was a genius. Her triumphs and troubles share the stage in Light’s pitch-perfect biography, What Happened, Miss Simone?.”
Alan Light has been one of America’s leading music journalists for the past twenty years. He was a senior writer at Rolling Stone, founding music editor and editor-in-chief of Vibe, and editor-in-chief of Spin magazine. Light has appeared as a music and culture expert on numerous television and radio programs, and is currently the director of programming for Live from the Artists Den, a concert series on PBS. He has been a contributor to the New York Times, The New Yorker, GQ, Entertainment Weekly, Elle, and Mother Jones and has won two ASCAP-Deems Taylor Awards for his work.
Light is the author of The Skills to Pay the Bills, an oral history of the Beastie Boys; The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, and the Unlikely Ascent of “Hallelujah”; and cowriter of the New York Times bestselling memoir by Gregg Allman, My Cross to Bear, and Let’s Go Crazy: Prince and the Making of Purple Rain.