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I have often been asked what it was like growing up with a larger than life personality. I never really gave it much thought until I found myself answering that same question over and over. Mommy was a consummate artist, a child prodigy who skipped two grades, a mean basketball player and an honor student who graduated valedictorian from the Allen School for Girls. I say all that because anything she put her mind to, she excelled in. Mommy never flaunted her accomplishments. She never made me feel like I had to follow in her footsteps.
What makes this documentary remarkable, then, is its voiceover testimonials from the subject herself and interviews with family and friends, offering smaller but illuminating details of how depression, abuse and stardom wore Simone down before her Eighties-era resurgence. Here are 10 things we learned about Simone from the documentary.
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Baltimore is the album by Nina Simone. Veteran jazz producer Creed Taylor decided to sign Nina Simone to his record label after seeing her perform live in at Drury Lane, and together they would record "Baltimore," Simone's first album since 's It Is Finished. Simone would later say of the album, "The material was not my personal choice, and I had no say whatsoever in the selection of songs. It was all done before I could make any decisions," leaving it unclear whether Simone—who had notably insisted on creative control in her contracts with previous labels—is referring to the final selection of tracks included on the album or the entire selection of songs ever recorded for it. While she may not have had full control over the song selection, Simone had previously chosen to perform several of the album's songs live, including "Music For Lovers" as early as suggesting Simone had some say in the songs recorded for Baltimore, as it's unlikely that Taylor would have chosen this song on his own coincidentally.