What Happened, Miss Simone?


Growing up in Jim Crow–era North Carolina, young Eunice Waymon trained as a classical pianist and demonstrated a prodigious gift for her instrument. Though she dreamed of taking her classical talents to Carnegie Hall one day, Waymon instead found herself playing jazz and singing in an Atlantic City bar, rechristened with the stage name Nina Simone. But Simone’s singular style—her husky voice and Bach-inspired piano playing, at once both rigorous and deeply improvisational—propelled her to the top of the Billboard charts. In What Happened, Miss Simone?, Liz Garbus traces the soulful and troubled chanteuse’s transformation from working-class country girl to pop star to fierce civil rights activist, from worldwide renown to self-imposed exile and back again. Through captivating performance footage, interviews with Simone’s daughter and ex-husband, and intimate excerpts from diary entries, the film shows the darkness and brilliance of a provocative performer who was both propelled and burdened by genius.  EM


Liz Garbus


Amy Hobby, Liz Garbus, Justin Wilkes, Jayson Jackson


Joshua L. Pearson


Igor Martinovic, Rachel Morrison

Release Year


Festival Year



United States

Run Time

102 minutes