Mary J. Blige will make her feature starring debut in a movie about jazz chanteuse Nina Simone.

Mary J. Blige will make her feature starring debut in a movie about jazz chanteuse Nina Simone. The MTV Films/Paramount Pictures project will chronicle Simone's ascent to stardom and her relationship with Paris-based manager Clifton Henderson.

Simone, known as the high priestess of soul, rose to fame in the 1960s with signature jazz ballads and such powerful protest songs as "Mississippi Goddam" and "To Be Young, Gifted, and Black," an anthem of the civil rights movement. In 1974, the chanteuse went into exile, eventually ending up in Paris, where she died in 2003.

Blige is gearing up for the Dec. 20 release of "The Breakthrough." The set is the follow-up to the R&B singer's 2003's "Love and Life" (Geffen), which debuted at No. 1 on The Billboard 200 and the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and has sold more than 940,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.