Nina Simone’s granddaughter is accusing Vice President Kamala Harris of causing the family to lose control of the legendary singer’s estate while Harris was California attorney general.
RéAnna Simone Kelly made the claim on Twitter Friday. “Nina’s granddaughter here. My family doesn’t run her estate anymore. It was taken away from us & given to white people. Our family name was DRAGGED in the media. We get NO royalties, nothing. Wanna hold someone accountable? Ask Kamala Harris why she came for my family”, RéAnna said after someone on Twitter had questioned why an account for Simone was created years after her death.
When Simone died in 2003, her daughter Lisa Simone Kelly was made the administrator of both her estate and a charitable trust. The Daily Beast however reports that in 2013, Lisa was accused of “breaching her fiduciary duty to both the estate and trust, allegedly draining up to $2 million from its coffers, including a $1.5 million deposit into her personal company.”
Harris, who was California’s attorney general at the time, took charge of the case and initially sought to collect a surcharge of $5.93 million plus over $2.5 million in interest from Lisa. Eventually, the state of California and Lisa came to a separate agreement. As part of that agreement, Lisa was stripped of her title of estate administrator. She agreed to relinquish her rights to Simone’s works.
The deal caused Lisa to become suicidal, according to RéAnna, who is her daughter. “As I said before, Ask her [Harris] why she separated my family. Ask her why my grandmothers estate is in SHAMBLES now. Ask her why we as her family no longer own the rights to anything. Ask her why she bullied my mother in court and my mom almost killed herself from the depression.”
RéAnna continued: “My grandmother is influencing the masses (as she should!!). I see her on billboards. I see artists covering her music. It breaks my heart to know that white people are making money off of grandmas hard work and that we have had all of our rights as her family STRIPPED from us!!”
She further indicated that John Legend performed a cover of a Nina Simone song during the Biden-Harris Inauguration concert this year. “While we’re asking Kamala questions ask her why after all of this pain and suffering she put us through a Nina Simone song was sang at the inauguration to swear her in as VP?! She knew what she was doing,” RéAnna stated.
Simone was one of the very first Black women to go into the Jazz genre and become a global sensation, rising to fame in the 1950s. Born Eunice Kathleen Waymon on February 21, 1933, in Tryon, North Carolina, she nurtured her music passion from the beginning.
After leaving the Julliard School in New York where she was studying classical piano, she turned to performing in nightclubs focusing mainly on jazz, blues and folk music.
Though her mark as a talented musician is still being felt today, she is also respectfully remembered as a staunch civil rights activist.