May 4, 2015


Listen to Jazmine Sullivan's Timely Cover of Nina Simone's "Baltimore"

Last week, we shared the intriguing trailer for Netflix's upcoming Nina Simone documentary What Happened, Miss Nina? Today, we get to hear the first song from its accompanying soundtrack—and it's as timely as a release could ever be.

R&B powerhouse Jazmine Sullivan covered the soul legend's 1978 release "Baltimore" with its lyrics roaring more powerful and pertinent than ever. Sullivan's raspy vocals detail urban life challenges, particularly for those of color: "Hard times in the city / In a hard town by the sea / Ain't nowhere to run to / There ain't nothin' here for free."

The "Baltimore" video is a chilling juxtaposition of vintage footage from the Civil Rights Movement to recent protests over the death of Freddie Gray at the hands of local police. Miss Nina herself, who was known as a Civil Rights activist, opens the visual with an old interview clip about her place in music that rings as a poignant statement for 2015: 

"I choose to reflect the times and the situations in which I find myself. That, to me, is my duty. At this crucial times in our liveswhen everything is so desperate, when everyday is a matter of survivalI don't think you can help but be involved.

We will shape and mold this country, I will not be shaped and molded at all, anymore. I don't think you have a choice. How can you be an artist and not reflect the times?"

Along with Sullivan, Mary J. BligeCommonLauryn Hill, Nina's duaghter Lisa Simone and others recorded songs for a tribute album to accompany the upcoming Neflix doc. Reports indicate the LP will be produced by Robert Glasper, but there aren't concrete details about a release date or tracklist.