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Thread: Nina Simone's daughter was badly treated by her mother

  1. #1
    Elite Member rollo's Avatar
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    Feb 2009

    Default Nina Simone's daughter was badly treated by her mother

    My mummy never cared for me: Drunk, depressed - and a terrifying monster of a mother, the only child of Nina Simone gives a painful account of life with the singer
    PUBLISHED: 22:00, 12 July 2014 | UPDATED: 22:00, 12 July 2014

    She was known as the high priestess of soul, but the late American musician, adored for hits such as My Baby Just Cares For Me, was a hugely troubled figure
    'My mother could be a monster,' said Lisa, talking for the first time about life with Nina Simone

    She battled depression and alcoholism, and had a tortured relationship with her only child, Lisa.
    ‘My mother could be a monster,’ says Lisa, talking for the first time about life with Nina.
    ‘I was not a happy child when I was alone with her.
    'My mum shot me down a lot, attacked me in public. It is easy to attack children, they are small and depend on you.’
    Nina’s death in 2003, aged 70, unleashed family resentments and a battle in courts across America over her multi-million-pound estate.
    ‘Ugly truths have come out and relationships have died because people treated me as a commodity,’ Lisa tells me.
    ‘Too many people had ulterior motives.’
    Throughout her life Lisa, a professional singer and musician, was dragged across the world by her mother.
    When she complained or refused, she was blackmailed and beaten. It is a mark of her erratic and peripatetic life that she had 13 governesses by the age of seven, was working at ten and was her mother’s chauffeur by 12. She walked out at 14 after a beating.
    Nina refused to support her career in the U.S. Air Force or her entry into music, and disinherited Lisa from her will.
    ‘I’d like to think if she had taken two seconds to think about her behaviour she would have done things differently but I’m not sure.
    'My mother was angry with the world and often the only person around to blame was me.

    'When my parents were together my mother was more giving and open but with the divorce she turned into someone you didn’t want to know.
    'I had nothing to do with my father before his death.’
    That father, Andy Stroud, who Nina married in 1961, died in 2012.
    A former detective, he was a muscular, handsome but violent man who set himself up as Nina’s manager in the Sixties and kept her in line with beatings.
    Simone’s life is now the subject of an eagerly anticipated Hollywood biopic, Nina, starring Zoe Saldana.
    It was due out in March, but the release date was postponed when writer and director Cynthia Mort became locked in a protracted legal dispute with the producers.
    Mort says she’s been cut out of the final editing process and is demanding to be reinstated.
    Even in death, it seems, the life of Nina Simone remains the subject of intense controversy.
    Born Eunice Way-mon in America’s Deep South, Nina was a child prodigy whose parents were determined to realise her ambition of becoming the first black concert pianist.
    Denied a place at a distinguished white music school, Simone would craft what she called ‘black classical music’, a mix of jazz, gospel, blues, folk and soul.

    During the Sixties, Simone, who had seen how racists made her parents sit at the back of the hall during her early recitals, would become an icon to the civil rights movement, although she clashed with Martin Luther King over his non-violent approach to reform.
    She channelled her anger into songs such as Mississippi Goddam, composed in response to the killing of a black man in 1963, and Four Women, which deals with the issue of how black women are treated in society.

    In 1970, with the peak of her career behind her, Nina and Lisa fled from the abusive Stroud for Barbados, where Nina began an affair with the married Prime Minister Errol Barrow.
    When Barrow discarded the tempestuous and impoverished singer, her daughter felt the consequences.
    ‘I got my first job in Barbados. I was ten or 11, old enough to file papers. I had no option.’
    Nina lost her home and control of her business affairs after court battles with the U.S. Inland Revenue Service.
    Her response was to move to Liberia at the invitation of exiled South African musical icon Miriam Makeba.
    Lisa remembers Liberia’s capital Monrovia as a rare oasis of stability – as long as her mother was absent.
    ‘It was one of the happiest periods of my life’, she says.
    ‘I went to school there and I lived with a surrogate family. But then my mother decided to join me and it went downhill.
    'At 12 I ended up driving around on my own in a Pontiac Catalina running errands. I had to grow up fast.’
    In 1976 Nina moved again, this time to Geneva, where she enrolled Lisa in an international boarding school.
    But Switzerland would become yet another family battleground, and Lisa eventually moved back to the U.S., as an engineer in the Air Force.
    She quit the military in 1992, at 29, initially to become a backing singer, performing under the name Simone Kelly.
    Nina was not impressed.
    ‘My mother had one word when I told her: “Why?” I said: “Why not?”
    'I hoped she could tell me where the potholes were in the music industry but she gave me reasons why I shouldn’t do it.

    'She said the industry and critics would have a field day with me, and that I would be expected to be a piano virtuoso, like her, and be forever tied down to singing her songs.’
    In 2001 Nina saw her daughter take to the stage as the lead in the Broadway production of Elton John’s musical hit Aida but two years later she would be dead from breast cancer.
    Her will named tax adviser Mark Penniman as her executor. Lisa sued, claiming Nina had revoked the document before dying and that Penniman had mishandled her assets.
    The pair were at war until 2006 when a Californian court found in her favour.
    Soon after, an even more explosive fight erupted, this time with her father.
    Court documents accuse him of trying to cash in on his ex-wife’s name by claiming ownership of hundreds of her recordings, allegedly gifted to him as part of their 1972 divorce settlement.
    Lisa and her team have attempted to wrest them back for the estate – only to have Stroud sue Lisa for copyright infringement and punitive damages. They in turn claim his actions have devalued and diminished the true worth of Nina’s legacy.
    ‘My mother did not make all those sacrifices for her estate to be thrown away,’ Lisa says today.
    ‘I did not go through what I did to have her contribution forgotten.
    'I had no relationship with my father. He thought he could use me to get control of my mother’s estate and when I decided to stand my ground he decided to make my life a living hell.’

    The unfolding anarchy surrounding the new Saldana film Nina seems an appropriate reflection of her chaotic life, and it produces a wry smile from Lisa.
    ‘They did not ask me or the Nina Simone estate to participate in the film at all. It is based on a lie because it is based on the life of my mother’s assistant, Clifton Henderson.
    'Clifton was gay so he could not have had an affair with my mother, which is what the film implies.
    ‘And my mother was raised at a time when she was told her nose was too wide, her skin was too dark…
    ‘She was rejected by the U.S. She loved classical music and wanted to become the first black classical pianist but her dreams turned to dust because of the colour of her skin.

    ‘Zoe Saldana portraying her is a bad joke because there are more gifted actresses who are more in keeping with my mother’s appearance.
    'I know how my mother would feel about Zoe, so they are making a mockery of her experiences to construct their own truth.
    ‘The goal seems to be to bleed me dry of everything my mother stood for, of everything she sacrificed.
    ‘She had many experiences in her life that left her feeling sad and angry. They approached the estate for permission to use some of the songs but as administrator I refused.
    'I had the biggest laugh when I heard that Cynthia Mort had been pushed out of the film. You could call it karma. There is most certainly a divine order at work.’
    Now aged 51 and living at her mother’s house outside Marseilles, Lisa believes she has finally found a degree of professional and personal satisfaction.
    This autumn she is bringing out a new album, All Is Well, and has embarked on a tour of Europe.
    A judgment is expected in a Californian court later this summer that will help determine whether Lisa will finally win control over her late mother’s estate.
    The contrast with Nina couldn’t be sharper.
    ‘I have been married 18 years, I have a good relationship with my children and I hope I’ll get to die with a smile on my face surrounded by my family.
    'My mother never got that. She passed away still in search of comfort and love. Perhaps if she had them, she might, in the end, have known peace.’

    Read more: Nina Simone's daughter Lisa: My mummy never cared for me | Mail Online

  2. #2
    Elite Member BITTER's Avatar
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    Mar 2009


    Nina had been through a lot in her life. It is a shame that she took it out on her daughter.
    snoopqueen likes this.
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  3. #3
    Elite Member sluce's Avatar
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    Lisa does a wonderful job of presenting her story with painful honesty, while still showing she has taken time to understand "why" and come through knowing it was not her fault.
    Last edited by sluce; July 13th, 2014 at 09:29 PM.
    sputnik, BITTER, Lalasnake and 3 others like this.
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  4. #4
    Elite Member Kathie_Moffett's Avatar
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    just another freak in the freak kingdom


    Yes! I feared this would be another 'embittered offspring of abusive dead celeb rants about their awful childhood' type story, but it wasn't. Lisa obviously has a lot of compassion for her mother.
    Did you know that every time a parent gives in to their kid's whines and buys them candy at the checkout lane, a kitten gets diabetes?-Dlisted
    I dislike groups of people, but I love individuals. Every person you look at, you can see the universe in their eyes, if you're really looking.
    -George Carlin

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