New York, New York (June 5, 2013) – @radical.media today announced that it will develop and produce the definitive documentary on the life of the pioneering musical artist Nina Simone, considered the “high priestess of soul,” in partnership with her estate and daughter.
“Nina is right up there with Sinatra, Presley and Dylan as one of the most iconic musical artists of the 20th Century. Yet, we’ve only begun to scratch the surface of her life’s story which was as tumultuous and inspirational as her music was captivating,” said Justin Wilkes, @radical.media President of Media + Entertainment. “Her family and estate will be invaluable partners as we’ve been given unprecedented access to weave together her fascinating story.”
The feature documentary project, which was brought to @radical by the estate’s representative Jayson Jackson, will include highlights from hours of never-before-seen archival and performance footage tracing Nina’s life from her journey from poverty in the Jim Crow South, to her defining role in the Civil Rights struggle and her arrival on the world’s stage and finally, her self-imposed exile in France.
“I’ve been waiting for many years to bring the true and complete story of my mom’s life to the screen”, said Simone, Nina’s daughter. “I’m excited to be working with partners who have a long history of producing important films and together we will be able to preserve my mom’s cultural and musical legacy.”
@radical.media is currently in discussions with potential directors and distribution partners for the film. Jon Kamen, Justin Wilkes and Sidney Beaumont are producing the film in partnership with Jayson Jackson and Simone on behalf of the Nina Simone Estate.
@radical.media has produced a number of films telling nuanced, multi-faceted stories including: the Academy Award and Independent Spirit Award-winning documentary The Fog of War; Grammy-winning Concert for George; and Under African Skies, theEmmy Award-winning documentary examination of the making of the groundbreaking and controversial Paul Simon record Graceland.
About Nina Simone:
Dr. Nina Simone was the consummate artist.
She was born Eunice Kathleen Waymon in Tryon, NC on February 21, 1933. A child prodigy, Eunice’s remarkable gift at the piano became the glue that would bring the town together to pay for her lessons in exchange for doing regular recitals. During one of those recitals she stood up against discrimination, refusing to play until her parents, who had been moved to the back of the library, were moved back to the front. She was ten years old and the courage she embodied on that day would become the pillar upon which her legacy of genius, fearlessness and contributions towards civil rights would be built.
Eunice attended the Allen School for Girls during her high school years, graduating valedictorian. Many school mates have remarked she could be heard practicing classical piano as early as 4am, rigorously preparing for her admissions examinations into the prestigious Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, a dream long held. She was rejected. Not because she lacked the training and potential, but because of the color of her skin. The heartbreak of that rejection would always remain, and the reasons for it would be the fire that would forge the spirit of the revolutionary whose voice would become known around the world, as Nina Simone.
Throughout her career, she spoke out against racism, sexism, colorism, and inequality in many forms. She fearlessly used her gift as a writer/performer/musician to educate and inspire her people to know “who they are and where they come from” often saying, “It is an artist’s responsibility to reflect the times”. Nina knew firsthand how detrimental even the most insidious inequities could be, as she herself was told she was too black, her nose too wide, her lips too full, or that she was too difficult or outspoken for a woman. Rather than giving into these oppressions, Nina used her genius to pen songs such as “Four Women,” “To Be Young, Gifted & Black,” and “Mississippi Goddam.” However, she wasn’t limited to songs of political and social activism. Some of her most popular cover songs have also reached iconic status, such as “I Put A Spell On You,” “My Baby Just Cares For Me,” “Feelin’ Good” and “Sinnerman.”
Dr. Simone, also known as ‘The High Priestess of Soul’ was one of the most extraordinary artists of the twentieth century, an icon of American music, and the pioneer of what she considered Black Classical music. She was a griot, as she would come to learn, who used her remarkable talent to create a legacy of liberation, empowerment, passion, and love through a magnificent body of works. She died April 21, 2003 in her home in southern France and the world mourned the passing of a consummate artist. Her music remains on the charts worldwide, and her spirit lives on in the hearts and souls of fans around the world.
@radical.media is a global studio that develops, produces and distributes television, feature films, commercials, music programming, live events, smartphone & tablet applications, digital content and design. The company has produced a number of award-winning feature projects, including the Academy Award-nominated documentary, Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory, the Academy Award-winning documentary The Fog of War; the Grammy Award-winning Concert for George; the Independent Spirit Award-winning Metallica: Some Kind of Monster; the pilot episode of the Emmy and Golden Globe winning series Mad Men; the Emmy-winning 10 Days That Unexpectedly Changed America for the History Channel; six seasons of the critically acclaimed series Iconoclasts for the Sundance Channel; three seasons of the NAACP award winning series, Oprah Presents Master Class for OWN; and recently, the Emmy-winning Paul Simon Graceland documentary, Under African Skies for A&E.
Additionally, the company has garnered numerous accolades for digital initiatives such as The Johnny Cash Project, Arcade Fire’s The Wilderness Downtown, the Sting 25 App and the Gagosian Gallery’s iPad App. In addition to its Oscar, Golden Globe and Grammy wins, @radical.media has earned two Palme d’Or Awards at the Cannes Lions Advertising Festival. The company has won numerous Emmys, Webbys, D&AD Pencils, One Show Pencils, MTV VMA Awards, Clios, Art Directors Club medals, the prestigious Smithsonian National Design Award for Communications Media and just about every accolade and trophy associated with the advertising and marketing industries, in both traditional and new media. @radical.media is a FremantleMedia Company. www.radicalmedia.com