Told by her daughter, vocalist Lisa Simone Kelly, Feeling Good: The Nina Simone Story is a touching, intimate look at life, work and genius of jazz composer, pianist, vocalist and civil rights activist Nina Simone.
Whether it was a song she composed or one she interpreted, Nina had the ability to communicate its meaning beyond words. She excavated the essential soul of every song that she sang.
Whether it was belting out a protest song , moaning out a love ballad or blues tune, or playing the piano with classical virtuosity, Nina commanded her audience. And in her offstage life she demanded to be treated with respect and dignity at all times. For a black woman of her time, that stance alone was revolutionary.
But in this documentary we also hear about the tender, vulnerable, and sometimes funny Nina from the people that she loved and trusted... Her close circle of friends (including former NPR Host Verta Mae Grosvenor), family members, people in her band, recording industry professionals who had the rare opportunity to call her a friend. Most of all, we hear a daughter sharing first-hand insight into the heights and depths of the life of a musical genius she knew as "Mommy".
We all knew that Nina knew pain. When she expressed it in song, she bravely exposed the raw emotions that most of us tamp down in order to get by. She was our zeitgeist, because she had the intuition and bravery to call out and capture these emotions, and the brilliance to channel them in high definition . But it meant that Nina was not without her own shadows. For this reason her daughter reflects that Nina was most free when she performed.
In Feeling Good we get to hear lots of Nina's music, and remember how nimbly she could transition from jazz to gospel to blues to classical piano licks in a way that seemed effortless. Nina Simone deserves to be honored, and this documentary does it elegantly.
Produced by Sue Clark Productions