What Happened, Miss Simone?

Title Text

Praise for What Happened, Miss Simone?

“Alan Light has written an electrifying, humane, and dimensional biography of one of my favorite artists in the entire world. I learned so much about a woman I admire, the woman whose fiery piano and voice is a powerful reminder of what artists are meant to do! What Happened, Miss Simone? captures how unique and real she was on every page.”
—Alicia Keys

“A spellbinding portrait of a musical genius, a woman both ahead of her time and of it. In What Happened Miss Simone? Alan Light resurrects the High Priestess of Soul with profound sympathy and masterful storytelling.”
—Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, author of Mo’ Meta Blues and Something to Food About

“Nina Simone was an overwhelming artist, piano player, and singer—the kind of artist that I loved and admired.”
—Bob Dylan

“Nina Simone’s music helped us to navigate the contradictions that propelled the black struggle forward.…Her phenomenal voice beckoned us toward the battle to come.”
—Angela Davis

What Happened, Miss Simone - COVERFrom prominent 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 and the transcripts from her various attempts at a memoir—WHAT HAPPENED, MISS SIMONE?: A Biography (Crown Archetype, on sale February 9, 2016) is a nuanced examination of Simone’s life, highlighting 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 France later in life.   What Happened, Miss Simone? explores the many facets of this complicated and gifted woman, excavating her lifelong passion for classical music and painful rejection from that genre, along with her soaring success as “the High Priestess of Soul” and the stresses she endured as an African American pushing against the tide of racial discrimination in civil rights battles. “It’s hard not to look at Nina’s triumphant, tortured life as, in some ways, a reflection of her time, her race, her gender,” Light writes. “If she was both brilliant and unstable, did she not live through a moment in history that was also brilliant and unstable?”

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

Fun Fact! In 1974, unlikely acquaintances Nina Simone and legendary rock icon David Bowie met by chance at a New York City nightclub. Both musicians were transitioning creatively and professionally.  Bowie had recently shed the Ziggy Stardust persona while Simone was struggling to make sense of the downward turn in her career. Click here to read how a little known friendship was forged between the two and how the young rock star helped Simone out of her emotional slump: http://time.com/david-bowie-nina-simone/.



About the Author:

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.

The Crown Publishing Group