Nina Simone’s granddaughter blames Kamala Harris for losing singer’s estate
ReAnna Simone Kelly said her family is now living paycheck to paycheck, but failed to mention that Nina Simone only left her mother Lisa Simone Kelly a condo in her will
The granddaughter of iconic jazz singer Nina Simone is breaking her silence and is directing her anger toward Vice President Kamala Harris.
On Friday, RéAnna Simone Kelly, the daughter of Simone’s daughter Lisa Simone Kelly, praised and defended singer Chlöe Bailey’s sexy rendition of her grandmother’s iconic song, “Feeling Good” on ABC’s Soul of the Nation which created controversy.
In a series of tweets, Kelly praised Bailey’s performance and reminded critics that her grandmother was “a free-spirited woman herself.”
Soon after, a Twitter user called @confessedliar responded to the performance and said, “Nina Simone passed away April 21, 2003 & twitter launched July 15, 2006, why would her estate even make an account for her?”
Kelly responded in a thread of tweets and aimed her anger at Harris, who served as the California attorney general from 2011 until 2017. She accused Harris of taking the rights to her grandmother’s estate away from her family.
“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,” Kelly said. “We get NO royalties, nothing. Wanna hold someone accountable? Ask Kamala Harris why she came for my family #NinaSimone.”
But Kelly failed to mention that her mother, Lisa Simone Kelly, was only left a condo based on her Nina Simone’s will. What’s more, Kelly reached a settlement with the Superior Court of the State of California in a legal proceeding overseen by then-California Attorney General Kamala Harris in which she resigned her role as trustee and administrator of the Estate of Nina Simone and Nina Simone Charitable Trust.
Newsweek reported that Lisa Simone Kelly later lost control after she was accused of “breaching her fiduciary duty” to both the estate and trust. Harris sought to surcharge the singer’s daughter for nearly $6 million-plus over $2.5 million in interest and eventually reached a settlement that stripped her of her administrator role. She agreed to have the rights to her mother’s work relinquished.
In court documents, it was revealed that in her will, Nina Simone left her daughter a condominium in Los Angeles, but requested that “all residue to be held in trust and used ‘for the musical education of black African children from South Africa, Liberia and Ghana.'”
Lisa Simone Kelly also tried to initiate a French forced heirship claim to Nina Simone’s assets other than the condo, which was rejected in court because French forced heirship law “does not apply to the distribution of the Estate’s assets.”
Kelly said that she deleted tweets due to needing to speak with her family before discussing the details and proceeded by saying she feels “more comfortable” speaking her truth “openly and freely.”
She then accused Harris of bullying her mother in court, having a gag order placed on her, and leaving the estate “in shambles.”
“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,” she said.
“Ask her why my mother had a gag order put on her and can not speak on these things. Ask her why she didn’t even want my mom to be able to say she was Nina Simone’s daughter. Ask her why she wanted us to walk away with NOTHING.”
Simone, one of the most beloved singers of her generation, known for her songs “Four Women” and “Feeling Good,” died on April 21, 2003, at her home in Carry-le-Rouet, France at the age of 70.
Kelly, expressed her pride in her legendary grandmother’s legacy but said feels separated from it as the current owners of the estate are profiting while her family is living “paycheck to paycheck.”
Editor’s Note: This article, which was published on June 20, has been updated with additional legal background regarding Lisa Simone Kelly’s settlement case in the state of California, which her daughter RéAnna Simone Kelly failed to mention in her Twitter thread regarding then-California Attorney General Kamala Harris.
Have you subscribed to theGrio’s podcast “Dear Culture”? Download our newest episodes now!
TheGrio is now on Apple TV, Amazon Fire, and Roku. Download theGrio today!