While serving as California attorney general, Vice President Kamala Harris is accused by Nina Simone’s granddaughter of forcing the family to lose control of the iconic singer’s estate.
The assertion was made by RéAnna Simone Kelly on Twitter on Friday. “This is Nina’s granddaughter. Her estate is no longer managed by my family. It was seized from us and handed over to white folks. In the media, our surname was DRAGGED. We don’t get any royalties at all. Do you want to hold someone to account? After someone on Twitter questioned why a Twitter account for Simone was created years after her death, RéAnna responded, “Ask Kamala Harris why she came for my family.”
Simone’s daughter Lisa Simone Kelly was named administrator of both her estate and a charitable trust when she died in 2003. According to the Daily Beast, Lisa was charged with “breaching her fiduciary duties to both the estate and trust, reportedly draining up to $2 million from its coffers, including a $1.5 million payment into her own company” in 2013.
Harris, who was California’s attorney general at the time, took up the case and sought a $5.93 million surcharge from Lisa, as well as over $2.5 million in interest. The state of California and Lisa eventually reached a separate deal. Lisa’s title of estate administrator was taken away as part of the deal. She consented to give up her ownership over Simone’s works.
Lisa became suicidal as a result of the deal, according to her daughter RéAnna. “As I already stated, ask her [Harris] why she split up my family. Inquire as to why my grandmother’s estate is currently in shambles. Inquire as to why we, as her family, no longer own any property. Inquire as to why she bullied my mother in court, and my mother nearly died of depression.”
“My granny is influencing the masses (as she should!! ),” RéAnna continued. I’ve seen her advertised on billboards. I’ve seen artists cover her songs. It saddens my heart to learn that white people profit from Grandma’s hard labor and that we as her family have had all of our rights stripped from us!!”
She also mentioned that during this year’s Biden-Harris Inauguration event, John Legend sang a version of a Nina Simone song. “While we’re at it, ask Kamala why, after all of this pain and suffering, a Nina Simone song was played during her inauguration to swear her in as Vice President?! RéAnna stated, “She understood what she was doing.”
In the 1950s, Simone was one of the first Black women to break into the jazz genre and become a global sensation. Eunice Kathleen Waymon was born on February 21, 1933, in Tryon, North Carolina, and she has always been passionate about music.
She began performing in nightclubs after leaving the Julliard School in New York, where she had been studying classical piano. She specialized in jazz, blues, and folk music.
Though her legacy as a gifted musician lives on, she is also known for her work as a passionate civil rights activist.