8 Streaming Documentaries About Black Female Artists You Need In Your Life Right Now

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Black History Month is a yearly reminder that Black culture and accomplishments deserve to be celebrated. And when going about this, it is important to highlight the achievements and endeavors of Black women in particular. One way to do that is by streaming documentaries about Black female artists. We seldom see Black women getting recognized for their accomplishments in entertainment through film, and so it couldn't be more necessary to highlight the documentaries we do have that celebrate Black female artists of all forms.

Art is boundless, covering fields like literature, craftsmanship, dance, theater, comedy, and film. The documentaries on the below list show just how wide that range is, and they all honor some truly groundbreaking, talented women. These eight films, all available to stream, shed light on various Black female artists who have thrived in and greatly impacted Black culture. These women made entertainment history by paving the way for other Black women, made trends of their own, and broke into the industry with fearlessness.

1. Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise

PBS on YouTube

Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise is a deep look into Dr. Maya Angelou's profound influence on literature and pop culture. Featuring a selection of archival footage of Angelou and interviews with celebs like Common and Cicely Tyson, the film shows its audience how the writer's civil and political engagements impacted the world.

Available on YouTube.

2. Miss Sharon Jones!

Starzmediavod on YouTube

Singer Sharon Jones was the lead singer of Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, a soul and funk band based in Brooklyn. Jones' break in music came later in her life when she released her first record at 40, and received her first Grammy nomination in 2014 for Give the People What They Want. The documentary Miss Sharon Jones! follows the late singer as she tried to hold her band together while battling pancreatic cancer and rising in fame.

Available on Netflix.

3. A Ballerina's Tale

IFCFilmsVOD on YouTube

Misty Copeland became the first African-American woman to be promoted to principal dancer for the American Ballet Theatre in its 75-year history. After starting her dance career at 13, Copeland made her mark when she won first place in the Music Center Spotlight Awards two years later. She went on to study at the San Francisco Ballet School and American Ballet Theatre’s Summer Intensive on full scholarship. Copeland's inspiring story is a must watch.

Stream here.

4. Life’s Essentials With Ruby Dee

Juice Worldwide on YouTube

Ruby Dee was an actor, poet, playwright, and civil rights activist known for her roles in A Raisin In The Sun and The Jackie Robinson Story. This documentary takes a look at Dee's work, which explored all major forms of media over a span of eight decades.

Available on YouTube.

5. What Happened, Miss Simone?

Netflix on YouTube

What Happened, Miss Simone? digs deep into the life of the legendary Nina Simone. She earned the title "high priestess of soul" for her way of seductively weaving her experiences with womanhood into her music. The documentary shows just how relevant and important Simone still is to today's pop culture.

Available on Netflix.

6. 20 Feet From Stardom

Movieclips Trailers on YouTube

We all tend to keep our eyes on our favorite musicians as they perform at shows and on television, but we rarely focus on the singers in the background. That's where Twenty Feet From Stardom steps in. The doc highlights the artists that the audience often overlooks, such as longtime backup singers Darlene Love and Merry Clayton.

Stream here.

7. Mama Africa

matchboxfilmsuk on YouTube

South African singer Miriam Makeba was not just a performer, but a crusader against apartheid and a white-minority ran government in South Africa. Makeba started singing professionally in 1950s groups, in a mixture of jazz, traditional African music, and Westernized pop music. She later embarked on a solo journey with songs like "Pata Pata" and found her stardom blossoming. Mama Africa details Makeba's illustrious accomplishments and her impact on South Africa's civil injustice.

Available on YouTube.

8. Moms Mabley: I Got Somethin' To Tell You

First Hand Films on YouTube

Whoopi Goldberg directed this documentary, which examines the life and work of stand-up comic Jackie "Moms" Mabley. Early in her life, she was raped twice and gave up two children for adoption. She later ran away to Cleveland and started acting in a minstrel show, which jumpstarted her career. Mabley became a popular member of the Chitlin' Circuit of the African-American vaudeville minstrel, and appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show and The Smothers Brother Comedy Hour.

Available on HBO Go.

It’s time to pay some attention to the achievements of Black women, so read up and watch these great documentaries ASAP.