Lisa Simone Kelly, trustee of the late singing legend's estate, stands accused by the California Attorney General of keeping $1.5 million of her mom's money — reportedly allotted for music schools in South Africa, Liberia and Ghana — and funneling the fortune into her personal company without authorization.
Further, due to the alleged fraud, she has been pressured to step down as trustee and may face legal repercussions.
Nina Simone, born Eunice Kathleen Waymon, collected a considerable musical catalog in her career including hits like "Sinnerman" and "Strange Fruit" (the latter of which was sampled by Kanye West for Yeezus). In 1993 she moved to Southern France where in 2003 she passed away in her sleep after a lengthy battle with breast cancer.
Her life story will make it to the big screen by way of a biopic starring Zoe Saldana. The casting has been met with controversy over the Dominican actress's lighter skin tone singer. India Arie was among the critics who posted on Simone's website. "So today I saw the images of Zoe Saldana as Nina Simone … AND I THINK THEY ARE RIDICULOUS," she wrote. "Yes there should be a movie made, and YES they should have chosen someone who LOOKS like Nina Simone, ESPECIALLY since her RACE played such a PIVOTAL role in WHO, WHAT and WHY, she was."
Kelly took similar issue with the casting. "As an actress I respect her process, but I also know that there are many other actresses out there … who would be great as my mother," she told Ebony.
Like her mother, Kelly is also a performer, and is noted as, "her own woman: a singer, songwriter and performer whose ability to transcend genres echoes the tradition of her mother, musical icon Nina Simone," according to her Facebook page. She recently performed a handful of shows in France that wrapped Sunday (Nov. 24).
BET.com's request for comment on the theft accusations received no response as of press time.
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(Photos from left: Christian Alminana/FilmMagic, Ian Showell/Getty Images)