20 music documentaries you must watch if you liked A Star is Born

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What Happened, Miss Simone?

It’s hard to capture a real-life legend in a documentary, especially when they’re already dead. You can’t consult with them in order to get all the facts, and it also may embolden some filmmakers to slander the subject or be more loose with the real events. In the case of What Happened, Miss Simone?, they seemed to have done a good job portraying their subject, the legendary Nina Simone.

In this documentary, we’re shown the life of singer Nina Simone, whose bluesy voice inspired generations of fans. The singer was born in North Carolina in 1933 and had dreams of being a concert pianist before finding her voice. The documentary also touches on Simone’s work as a civil rights activist and her move to Liberia in the turbulent 1960s.

Despite not being alive to keep the documentary accurate, the filmmakers did interview Simone’s daughter and many of her friends. They also utilized previously unseen archival footage of the late singer. It seems like it all paid off too, because the film received six Primetime Emmy nominations, and was nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the 88th Academy Awards.

What Happened, Miss Simone? was released on Netflix in 2015, and also opened at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. Critics loved it, and with the comments on racial bias and racism that the film touched on, it was more relevant than ever in today’s complicated social climate.