What Happened, Miss Simone?

A Biography

Alan Light

You can hypnotise an entire audience and make them feel a certain way. I think about what they’re feeling, because I’m making sure they feel a certain way. And I know when I’ve got them
What Happened, Miss Simone? by Alan Light (Paperback ISBN 9781782118749) book cover

Available as Paperback, eBook

Inspired by the Oscar-nominated Netflix documentary, What Happened, Miss Simone? is an intimate and vivid portrait of the legendary Nina Simone

Inspired by the Oscar-nominated Netflix documentary, this is the story of the real Miss Simone.

What Happened, Miss Simone? tells the story 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.

Harnessing the singular voice of Miss Simone herself and incorporating candid reflections from those who knew her best, including her only daughter, music journalist Alan Light brings us face to face with a legend, examining the very public persona and very private struggles of one of our greatest artists.

“Her willingness to speak her mind shines out of every page”
the Times

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“Arrestive telling of the high priestess of soul’s life story…What makes this portrait so compelling are the extras; think of the book as a director’s cut”

“She is loved or feared, adored or disliked, but few who have met her music or glimpsed her soul react with moderation”
Maya Angelou

“Explores the huge impact [Nina Simone] made for civil rights through her music, as well as her activism”

“Traces a path through the sad and bewildering tangle that was Simone’s life”

Alan Light

A veteran music journalist, Alan Light is the author of The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley and the Unlikely Ascent of “Hallelujah” and Let’s Go Crazy: Prince and the Making of Purple Rain. Light was previously the editor-in-chief of Vibe and Spin and a senior writer for Rolling Stone. He is also a frequent contributor to the New York Times.

Watch the trailer for What Happened Miss Simone? on Netflix