Redbook, Maya Angelou and Nina Simone

The title of this Oscar-nominated feature documentary came from a November 1970 women's magazine.

Beyond the much-discussed group of 20 actors nominated for a 2015 Academy Award, there is a glimmer of #OscarsSoDiverse in the form of Best Documentary Feature nominee What Happened, Miss Simone?

The acclaimed Netflix project, which premiered at last year’s Sundance Film Festival, could very well be a punchline in host Chris Rock’s opening monologue. As the film’s director Liz Garbus explains in the current issue of Deadline’s AwardsLine, the documentary owes its title to another African-American trailblazer:

“We were searching for a very long time for a title for the film. I looked at all the great writers who had written about Nina. Ossie Davis read a brilliant eulogy at her funeral. And then finally a wonderful researcher came upon this fabulous 1970s article from Redbook that Maya Angelou had written, and in that article I found the title. That was very late in the process; we were down to the wire. They were on opposite ends of the decision-making pole, but because the opening scene was like a question – and Dr. Angelou was asking the same question – it seemed to fit.”

The Feature Documentary favorite this year is Amy, about the late Amy Winehouse. To view the November 1970 Redbook article cited above, click here. The key excerpt:

Her sinewy fingers knit dark patterns in the air as she explains that history, Black history, lives for her in the urgency of today, the past being the very alive parent of the future.

A listener, enraptured, is reluctant to interrupt this voice that has whispered “love” into thousands of ears and shouted “revolution” into the hearts of millions.

But what happened, Miss Simone? Specifically, what happened to your big eyes that quickly veil to hide the loneliness? To your voice that has so little tenderness, yet flows with your commitment to the battle of Life? What happened to you?