Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Lauryn Hill Replaces Mary J. Blige, Slotted to Play Nina Simone in Biopic

Ahhh, now if that headline were to be true I would be jumping up and down right now. But it's not. Zoe Saldana has been rumored to replace Blige in the long-awaited Nina Simone biographical film.

If only production companies would find people who are most believable; especially a woman like Nina who totally embraced her dark skin and full features, I don't get the Twiggy-esk, light-brown, self proclaimed Latina to be anything close to a decent pick. Zoe, maybe Cecilia Cruz, and that is even pushing it.

Even more so, Simone was one of the most complex and brilliant artists of her time. We need someone who has gone through some serious shit other than wondering win her white boyfriend is going to marry her and stop fucking other chicks. Nina, who indulged in white flesh would've went Watusi on that ass, and then wrote a groveled-filled, moaning jazz piece.

As well, I didn't really get Mary J. playing Nina other than their shared reputation of being a diva during performances, and alcoholism, oh yeah, and drug addiction. But Nina was so much more, so profound in her history that those things were just scratchings on her feet. She was a musical genius who leapt light years back to bless us with her presence.

I am not taking anything away from Mary J.'s contribution, she just isn't a believable contender either. Nina was a mystical intersection of sophisticated, cosmic and crass. She was down-rooted and extremely politically conscious, but Mary J., bless her soul, is sugared heavily with ratchety tendencies. And frankly, I just cant see Mary J. picking up a book, other than the bible, to read a thought provoking anything. But I'm not going to front, I prefer her over Fantasia, who struggles with literacy.

In contrast, Nina Simone, though raised by a strict Methodist mom chose music as her religion.

But have you ever seen a clip of Nina. I often play it to my students and they absolutely love her. I know in acting you must embody the soul, but Saldana is not only unbelievable, but can we employ some more chocolate sisters to play major roles?
While you're imitating Al Capone, I'll be Nina Simone ...

I think if Lauryn Hill got to do Nina, she would rock this shit. I know she was hand-picked by Rita Marley to play Rita in a biography, but Simone via Hill would be classic.

So let me tell you a little about a musician that black America disregarded and white America, plus white Europe could not control nor contain, she ascended by carving her own niche, and died lonely, and brokenhearted, and misunderstood.

Let me point out some similarities. And for the most part, I am cutting and pasting from articles I will cite at the end. Read more about what happens to women who define themselves for themselves, but please pay attention to the stunning similarities that I know will make Lauryn perfect for the role.

As I was thinking and digging, there were other things to that I saw were similar, but that would've turned into a book. Hmmmm, good idea.

Tax Issues
Nina Simone - IRS cited her for tax evasion and garnished her wages for back taxes. Nina Simone's growing bitterness over America's racism, her troubles with the IRS all led to her decision to leave the United States.
Lauryn Hill - Facing up a year's worth of jail time for not paying three years of "knowingly and willfully fail(ing) to make an income tax return to the IRS" that are worth up to about $1.8 million dollars. Took to tumblr to explain that she did it to protect the welfare of her family. "It was critically important that I find a suitable pathway within which to exist, without being distorted or economically strong-armed," she wrote.
Man Issues
Nina Simone - Married twice, Simone was known for her intense, whirlwind love affairs, one of which lasted 40 years, and another in which she moved to West Africa; and another being the "kept woman" of Barbadian Prime Minister Earl Barrow.
Simone and Stroud
A later move to Switzerland for the sake of her daughter's education was followed by a comeback attempt in London which failed when she put her faith in a sponsor who turned out to be a con man who robbed and beat her and abandoned her.
Her first husband Don Ross was a white beatnik and alcoholic who put her in financial ruin.
She was also raped and beaten by Andrew Stroud, a former NY detective on their wedding night before eventually ruining her financially. They had a daughter together, Lisa. It was Simone's second marriage and Stroud's fourth. Stroud later became her manager.
Stroud just died, July 16, 2012, but was slapped with a sanctions a week before.
"Nina Simone's former husband and business manager disobeyed a court order and must pay more than $40,000 in sanctions to the jazz great's estate, record label, and attorney, a federal judge ruled.
Defendant Andrew Stroud was married to Nina Simone, who died in 2003. The couple divorced in 1970, but Stroud has been involved in several legal battles involving the rights to Simone's recordings."
Lauryn Hill - Her 'complicated' love affair with Fugee comrade Wyclef Jean is said to be the inspiration of her songs on the Miseducation of Lauryn Hill album. The two were lovers while they often had others, which furthered the complexity of their relationship, and to some, proved difficult for them to work anymore.
Afterwards, Hill had five children with Rohan Marley, their first child was conceived when he was already married to another woman. Marley, who was spiritually married to Hill, went on twitter in 2011 claiming the paternity of some, but not all of Hill's children. Former associates of the Marley-Hill entourage have claimed that Marley was physically abusive toward Hill, and has sent her to the hospital on occasion. Hill's sixth child is rumored to be with her guitarist and was the reason as to the Marley-Hill split. Ironically, Hill was sued by her guitarist for lost wages and verbal abuse. Don't know if this is the same one who conceived baby. Marley is now engaged to Brazilian model Isabeli Fontana.
Leaving the Country
Nina Simone - She first moved to Barbados, and then, with the encouragement of Miriam Makeba and others, moved to Liberia.  When she moved to Barbados, while still married to Stroud, she had a "lengthy affair" with then Prime Minister Errol Barrows.She also moved to London, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and finally adopted France as her new home like Josephine Baker.
Lauryn Hill - Moved often moved her family between Miami, New Jersey, Ethiopia and the Caribbean with investments in the West Indies. Hill is noted to invest heavily in Caribbean and Ethiopian culture; oft requesting Caribbean nannies.
Recording Company Issues
Nina Simone - Her first single, "I Loves You Porgy," was a George Gershwin song from Porgy and Bess that had been a popular number for Billie Holiday. It sold well, and her recording career was launched. Unfortunately, the contract she signed gave away her rights, a mistake she came to bitterly regret.
Her disputes with the record companies she called "pirates,". . . In 1995, she won ownership of 52 of her master recordings in a San Francisco court . . .
Lauryn Hill - It has been known that Hill has had numerous clashes with her recording label over creativity that have caused many delays. It is said that she has hundreds of songs in her catalogue, but is reluctant to release for a number of issues. On on hand, it is what she labels as the "blood-sucking" on the industry, while on the other, it is residue from the 1998 lawsuit against her by New Ark, a creative production team and former friends who actually helped her pen and create the Miseducation album.

On tumblr, she wrote about the industry. "Over-commercialization and its resulting restrictions and limitations can be very damaging and distorting to the inherent nature of the individual," Hill wrote. "I did not deliberately abandon my fans, nor did I deliberately abandon any responsibilities, but I did however put my safety, health and freedom and the freedom, safety and health of my family first over all other material concerns! I also embraced my right to resist a system intentionally opposing my right to whole and integral survival."
Political Consciousness
Nina Simone - In the 1960s, Nina Simone was part of the civil rights movement and later the black power movement. Her songs are considered by some as anthems of those movements, and their evolution shows the growing hopelessness that American racial problems would be solved.

Nina Simone wrote "Mississippi Goddam" after the bombing of a Baptist church in Alabama killed four children and after Medgar Evers was assassinated in Mississipppi. This song, often sung in civil rights contexts, was not often played on radio. She introduced this song in performances as a show tune for a show that hadn't yet been written.

Other Nina Simone songs adopted by the civil rights movement as anthems included "Backlash Blues," "Old Jim Crow," "Four Women" and "To Be Young, Gifted and Black." The latter was composed in honor of her friend Lorraine Hansberry and became an anthem for the growing black power movement with its line, "Say it clear, say it loud, I am black and I am proud!"

With the growing women's movement, "Four Women" and her cover of Sinatra's "My Way" became feminist anthems as well.

But just a few years later, Nina Simone's friends Lorraine Hansberry and Langston Hughes were dead. Black heroes Martin Luther King, jr., and Malcolm X, were assassinated.
Lauryn Hill - Hill's lyrics and songs have been tinged with intellectualism and a black-political consciousness. Her first solo album is from Carter G. Woodson's book, Miseducation of the Negro, a prolific and provocative read in the early 1900s that still holds weight and truth today about the US institutions, in particular education and political that disenfranchise black people.
In 'Miseducation' album, Hill enlisted school teacher, now principal and city council member of Newark, Ras Baraka, to create an impromptu class session. Baraka is the son of famous poet, Amiri Baraka.
Catholic Church critique: "Lauryn Hill took time during the taping of a [2003] Christmas concert for television over the weekend in Vatican City to criticize the Catholic church about priests who have abused children, saying there is "no acceptable explanation for defending the church."

Hill's comments were picked up and translated by several Italian newspapers, one of which, La Repubblica, quoted her as telling her audience, 'I realize some of you may be offended by what I'm saying, but what do you say to the families who were betrayed by the people in whom they believed?'"

"The comments came in a huge hall used by the Pope for his weekly addresses.
"God has been a witness to the corruption of his leadership, of the exploitation and abuses ... by the clergy," she said.

Standing just yards from five of the most senior cardinals in the Roman Catholic faith, Hill told the crowd to seek blessings "from God not men" and said she did "not believe in representatives of God on earth".
She then went on to sing a song about social injustice which was not the one listed on the programme.
Organisers of the concert have said it is likely her outburst and performance will not appear in the final cut"
Hill also said that the perpetrators and the one's who covered up the scandal need to repent for their sins.
 African Aesthetic
Nina Simone - She arrived through the audience waving a bouquet, wearing a one-shouldered cotton flowered-print gown with matching pants and a blossom in the topknot of her cornrowed hair.
Nina was known for her African-inspired clothes and hair; her most memorable moment is a Pharoah's headdress and the intricate braids she popularized. Simone would often fuse traditional African hair styles and patterns with contemporary, fashion-forward styles. She loved her Afro too, and to show off her beautiful body, even in her late 60s.
Lauryn Hill - First coming to the scene with Bantu knots and a b-girl fashion sense, she went between baggy jeans on her lean and petite, boyish frame to small skirts. Her style has drifted between hip-hop to sensual Rastafarian livity, without hyper-sexualizing her image. But definitely has become unpredictable over the years with androgynous long Coptic Christian robes, and questionable make up. So I will focus on her natural hair journey.

It was Hill who revamped and refreshed one's approach to locks, and when she came back out she has been wearing different lengths of Afros, with a straight wig faze in-between. But her aesthetic, though clearly undefined has always had a tinge of the African aesthetic.
  Performance Critique
Nina Simone - Performances described as brilliant and bizarre. She would often do various renditions of songs that were unrecognizable. Wives nor girlfriends were not allowed to travel with band members, and she also spoke about aspects of life, and in particular, the complications of love.
Simone's outbursts were often directed at her fans. Performing in 1978, she told an audience, "Talent is a burden, not a joy. I am not of this planet. I do not come from you. I am not like you." She had mysterious hospitalizations and was on medication for multiple-personality disorder. (From and LA Times Article)
Lauryn Hill - The first shock by her fans came when Hill did the 2002 with her MTV Unplugged live performance that was filled with long dialogue to the audience between acoustic guitar songs no-one heard, other than her Bob Marley renditions at the end. Hill talked about her frustrations with the industry and negotiating her identity. ''I had created this public persona, this public illusion, and it held me hostage,'' we hear her tell a small audience on "MTV Unplugged No. 2.0", her first new work since ''Miseducation.''

After long stints of silence and reclusion, Hill would briefly resurface with concerts where she was known to be notoriously late, and the songs would be unrecognizable by either being sped up or over a Reggae Dubplate sound. Some concert goers would boo, and walk out, or demand a refund at times here performance was to be desired.

Nevertheless, when Hill re-emerged in 2011 she began to sharpen her chops and crowds got used to her re-styled songs. In 2012, she filled in for Nikki Minaj who boycotted Hot 97s Summer Jam concert with Nas, and apparently blew the sound system of the stage. As well, performances at the Jimmy Fallon show and some other appearances shows she has greatly improved; but the bun in the oven she delivered last year has postponed her career once again.

I must add she did appear in Dave Chappelle's Block Party in 2004.

Nina Simone - Raised in a strict Methodist upbringing where she had to use a performance name, hence Nina Simone, so her mother would not find out she had started to gig at a local lounge in her early days. In her later years, Nina said she was of no faith, but her religion was music.
Lauryn Hill - Raised a devout Methodist, she was also a follower of a "spiritual leader" named Brother Anthony. She was also baptized at a Coptic Christian Church in Lalibella.
"Her consuming relationship with religion. After she pulled her disappearing act, Lauryn would reappear from time to time, announcing in interviews that she'd met a spiritual leader. She told MTV Online, "I met someone who has an understanding of the Bible like no one else I ever met in my life. I just sat at [his] feet and ingested pure scripture for about a year." Reports later named the man as a mysterious figure who called himself Brother Anthony.

According to Rolling Stone, Lauryn turned her life inside out for Brother Anthony, firing her management team in the process. Brother Anthony was affiliated with no particular religious organization or church; Pras, Lauryn's Fugees' compatriot, described their relationship as "real cult sh--."
But even before Brother Anthony, Lauryn's strong connection to spirituality is evident throughout Miseducation, from her description of an angel coming to visit her to announce her pregnancy in "Zion," to her references to Psalm 73 and her name-checking Cain and Abel, Moses and Aaron and Ethiopia's holy churches in Lalibela."

Articles Cited
Nina Simone Obituary, LA Times

1 ish talking intellectuals holla at a sista:

Reggie said...

Ought to be interesting.