Ms. Lauryn Hill, Jazmine Sullivan Perform Tribute To Nina Simone At Apollo Theater

Netflix, along with the Film Society of Lincoln Center, paid due homage to the legendary High Priestess of Soul, Nina Simone, at Harlem’s Apollo Theatre last night (June 1), screening the evocative documentary What Happened, Miss Simone? followed by a special performance from Ms. Lauryn Hill and Jazmine Sullivan.

Directed by Liz Garbus, the tragic film, releasing to the streaming service on June 26, traced the iconic musician’s life from her early days as a classical pianist and breakthrough success as a blues musician to her transition into a civil rights activist whose burning passion for justice through equality inevitably unraveled her career.

The screening was capped off by a miniature tribute concert performed by Ms. Lauryn Hill, a contemporary artist whose complexities and controversies rival Simone’s. … Hill was introduced by Jayson Jackson, one of the film’s producers, who warned the audience of her diminished voice. In the process, he revealed that she’d lost it while rushing to complete recordings for an as-yet-announced Nina Simone covers album that will also feature Usher, Robert Glasper, Mary J. Blige and Jazmine Sullivan.

Hill kicked off her brief set with a cover of “Ne me quitte pas” (which Simone covered on her 1965 album I Put A Spell On You). The hoarse Hill sang in throaty French, commanding not only the crowd, but also the 16-piece backing band with which she shared the stage. A synth-driven version of “Black Is The Color (Of My True Love’s Hair)” came next. Hill crooned and danced through the extended, jammy rendition of the song, then launched into a rap-infused version of “Ain’t Got No, I Got Life.”

Read more at Billboard and NPR.

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