Documentary: ‘The Amazing Nina Simone’

Classically trained, vocally rebellious, powerful and flooded with emotion, Nina Simone commanded your ear and undivided attention with her music. So much that when you listen to her jazz-infused vocals, it’s because you want to feel something.

For Miss Simone, performance and music was her DNA, but also, her burden.

It is her essence that resonates in The Amazing Nina Simone, directed by Jeff Lieberman, opening nationwide in 20 cities on Oct. 23.

Unlike the 2015 Netflix release of the Liz Garbus’ What Happened, Miss Simone? which received support, along with an interview appearance and production credit from Simone’s daughter, Lisa, The Amazing Nina Simone’ takes a straightforward and chronological approach to tell Miss Simone’s story.

Lieberman incorporates intimate interviews with Nina’s brother, Sam Waymon, who often was a member of his sister’s band, former teachers, friends, lovers and admirers of her work to share their perspective on the obstacles Nina faced throughout her career. Lieberman also zooms in on her use of music to document the times and channel her rage as it related to civil rights.

Poet and friend Nikki Giovanni spoke to Nina’s political involvement along with her close-knit friendships with Lorraine Hansberry, Langston Hughes and James Baldwin. There’s also an interesting moment during Martin Luther King Jr.’s first encounter with the singer.

The two films are very different in tone. While Garbus’ documentary painted a portrait of the woman behind the music with in-depth looks into her mental state, self-exile and glances into her personal diaries, Lieberman’s film draws fans into the musical make-up of Simone and her relationship with fear and ideals of being free.

In both, Nina Simone’s presence, both physical and auditorily, confronted you with everything she was – complex, talented and strong-willed.

Get a glimpse of The Amazing Nina Simone below.

The Amazing Nina Simone – Documentary Feature Trailer from Re-Emerging Films on Vimeo.