Listen to Lauryn Hill’s covers of some of Nina Simone’s signature songs; ‘Feeling Good’ and ‘Black Is the Color of My True Love’s Hair.’ These stirring and memorable renditions are among the tracks on the album, ‘Nina Revisited: A Tribute to Nina Simone’ released to coincide with the premiere of the documentary ‘What Happened, Miss Simone?’ out on Netflix and theaters.
The much-anticipated Liz Garbus-directed documentary chronicles the life of the legendary music artist Nina Simone with archival footage. Her rise to fame in the 1960s coincided with the turbulent societal and cultural changes of that era. In one such archival clip in the film, she herself said, “How can you be an artist and not reflect the times? That to me is the definition of an artist.”
Lauryn Hill is among several music artists paying tribute to this towering figure; others on ‘Nina Revisited: A Tribute to Nina Simone’ including Usher and Jazmine Sullivan. Hill herself, of course, has forged a unique place in the fairly recent popular music landscape. The former Fugees member rose to fame with her intense and brilliant 1998 debut album, ‘The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.’ which won five Grammys including Album of the Year. And in recent years, her music and her concert performances have been rare and much anticipated when they happen.
Thus it’s with much interest and fanfare that these covers arrive. What would Hill, who has long referenced Simone in her own music, do with these classics? They are drawing much notice now that they have hit the Web in advance of the release of the soundtrack.
Rolling Stone quotes her as saying, via a written statement, of her involvement in the project, “Because I fed on this music, both hers and lovers like her, like my basic food, I believed I always had a right to have a voice. Her example is clearly a form of sustenance to a generation needing to find theirs. What a gift.”
And that certainly sums it up. We are much in need of original voices in the musical landscape that rise above marketing and the meeting of consumer expectations, to say nothing of often crass exploitation of sexuality and violence. The resurgence of interest in Nina Simone is certainly encouraging.
You can hear Lauryn Hill singing ‘Feeling Good’ and ‘Black Is the Color of My True Love’s Hair’ and see the official trailer of ‘What Happened, Miss Simone?” below.