The Sundance Institute pulled off the near-impossible at its annual Celebration of Music in Film concert Jan. 25 at the Park City venue the Shop. The artists assembled -- Common, Erykah Badu, Aloe Blacc and more -- evoked the soul and power of the iconoclastic Nina Simone, working her songbook with a reverence for her originality and spirit with little stylistic restraint.
Simone is no easy singer to capture or even encapsulate. She integrated jazz, classical, blues, showtunes, gospel and protest songs during a 50-year career. An outspoken Civil Rights advocate, she abandoned the United States for decades until a career revival brought her back for performances near the end of her life in 2003. Her story is the focus of Liz Garbus' What Happened, Miss Simone?, which opened the festival Jan. 22 and will reach Netflix in the spring. John Legend performed at the film's premiere.