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Source: Getty Images

Lisa Simone’s Relationship with Her Mother Nina Simone after She Endured Her ‘Mean Streak’ as a Child

Edduin Carvajal
Apr 08, 2022
09:15 A.M.
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Raising children is hard, and there is no ultimate parenting manual. Music legend Nina Simone struggled so much raising her daughter Lisa Simone that the latter eventually labeled her mom a "monster."


It's been almost two decades since singer-songwriter and civil rights activist Nina Simone passed away, but her daughter, Lisa Simone, did her best to keep her legacy alive.

In 2015, Lisa joined forces with Netflix to release a documentary about her mother, "What Happened, Miss Simone?" The film received an Oscar nomination for Best Documentary Feature, but it also brought back unhealthy memories from Lisa's childhood.

Lisa Simone on January 7, 2015 in Paris, France [main]. Lisa and Nina Simone posing for for a Crest advertisement circa 1964 [circle] | Source: Getty Images


Before digging into what Lisa faced as a child, it is essential to point out that Nina Simone had bipolar disorder and was somewhat famous for her temper and aggressive outbursts.

Nina married New York police detective Andrew Stroud in December 1961 and welcomed Lisa in September 1962. Stroud and Nina's relationship didn't stand the test of time, and they split in 1970. After their separation, Lisa confessed her mother became a "monster."

Lisa and Nina Simone in Wembley, London on May 28, 1968 | Source: Getty Images


Lisa lived with Nina, and they moved too frequently. The jazz legend would unleash her frustrations on Lisa so often that she thought her mother didn't love her. Lisa considered herself "the enemy."

After years of dealing with the same unhealthy treatment, Lisa stopped crying. Her mother would say, "you better cry," but Lisa would stare her right in the eye and hold back the tears. Lisa said

"My mom had a real mean streak. I could have grown up to be a drug addict, ended up in an asylum, or been an alcoholic, but fortunately I'm none of those things."


Nina Simone's daughter was in such physical and emotional pain that she considered taking her own life at 14. She was at a boarding school in Geneva and wanted everything to stop.

That was the straw that broke the camel's back. After getting help from her godmother Carol Lee, Lisa Simone escaped from her mom, moved to New York with her dad, and never returned.


Lisa admitted that her mother was angry at the world, and the only person around to blame was her. Even after leaving her side, Nina didn't change her ways. She even disinherited Lisa from her will. 

Eventually, Lisa understood that we are a product of our parents, and Nina did the best she could with the emotional tools she had. "I know now that my mother loved me," added Lisa.


Despite the horrible childhood Lisa faced, she followed in her mom's footsteps and became a singer. After being part of the United States Air Force, Lisa sang at a restaurant in Frankfurt, Germany, and attracted the attention of musician Joan Faulkner. 

Lisa accepted Faulkner's offer to be her background singer, and her musical journey began. She left the Air Force in 1992 and stayed in Europe, where she performed for several artists. Lisa returned to the States in the mid-1990s and has been a singer ever since.


In 2021, Lisa Simone's daughter, RéAnna Simone Kelly, made headlines after accusing Kamala Harris of taking away Nina Simone's estate to hand it over to "White people."

The youngest of the Simones explained that Harris separated her family, "bullied" Lisa in court, and put her under a "gag order." Lisa eventually said she supported her daughter in speaking the truth about her family. What a resilient woman!