Photo: Nina Simone (from her website) | [Point of this story: If you are a singer/songwriter/musician, make sure you leave someone you trust as executor of your estate in your will or set up a trust. Or your grandchildren will not get royalties for all the hard work you put in to make sure they had an easier life.]
By Cheyenne Roundtree, | Nina Simone’s daughter and grandchildren have declared they will no longer be silent, claiming her estate had been “taken away” from them and they are placing the blame on Vice President Kamala Harris.
It kicked off on Friday evening when RéAnna Simone Kelly, the daughter of Simone’s daughter Lisa Simone Kelly, praised Chlöe Bailey’s sexy rendition of the singer’s iconic song “Feeling Good”.
“Everyone’s coming at @ChloeBailey for her performance… But what y’all don’t understand is that grandma was a free-spirited woman herself,” RéAnna tweeted. “She would’ve loved that performance as much as I do! Relax. Chloe killed it.”
“Grandma was unapologetically herself,” she added in a follow-up tweet. “She was a muhhhfuckin badass woman who did what she wanted when she wanted. She was a sexual woman and she expressed that. Educate yourselves! If grandma could, she probably would’ve done that performance herself.”
Still scrolling through comments about Simone and her legacy, RéAnna came across a tweet questioning why her estate would make a Twitter account for the singer years after her death in 2003—and she decided it was finally time to air her grievances.
“We as her family don’t run her estate anymore,” the 22-year-old declared. “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.”
The iconic jazz singer’s family gripe with Harris goes back to 2013, when Harris was serving as California’s Attorney General. After Simone’s death, Kelly was made the administrator of her estate, as well as a charitable trust that Simone had established. It was Simone’s last wish for the charity to support the musical education of Black children in Africa.
But in 2013, Kelly 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, according to court records reviewed by The Daily Beast.
Harris oversaw the case and came down hard on Kelly, at one point wanting to surcharge her nearly $6 million, plus more than $2.5 million in interest. Eventually, the parties came to an agreement: Kelly was stripped of her title of estate administrator and agreed to relinquish her rights to Simone’s works. She also was barred from saying or implying that she had any affiliation with her mother’s legacy and estate.
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