Like mother, like daughter: Simone on Simone

Published 11:00 pm Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Born Eunice Kathleen Waymon at 30 East Livingston Street in 1933, the native Tryon daughter came to achieve international prominence for her sultry renditions of jazz and pop standards and her outspoken support for equal rights.Efforts to memorialize Nina Simone in Tryon are well underway. The Eunice Waymon-Nina Simone Memorial Project presently sponsors two annual scholarships, and donations are being solicited for a life-sized bronze sculpture of Simone by Zenos Frudakis, who visited Tryon in mid-January to explore potential site locations for that sculpture.More recently, Frudakis and Nina Simone Project director Dr. Crys Armbrust met with Simone&squo;s daughter Lisa Simone Kelly after her concert at the World Caf´ Live in Philadelphia. Her sold-out performance, accompanied by a seven-piece jazz ensemble, evoked the memory of her famed mother and echoed many of the tunes that had made Nina Simone famous. Lisa Kelly, who performs under the name &uot;Simone,&uot; is a seasoned musical performer in her own right, with headliner Broadway credits in &uot;Aida,&uot; &uot;Rent,&uot; &uot;Jesus Christ Superstar&uot; and &uot;Les Mis´rables,&uot; among others. She is presently on tour to promote the April release of her tribute CD &uot;Simone on Simone.&uot; On the day following her World Caf´ Live concert, Kelly spent several hours at Frudakis&squo;s studio, where she provided valuable commentary to Frudakis as he fine-tuned the facial features of the sculpture model. &uot;Lisa Kelly&squo;s response to the Project and the sculpture,&uot; Armbrust reports, &uot;is supportive and overwhelmingly positive.&uot; The watershed moment occurred when she exclaimed, &uot;Zenos, I think what you are doing is amazing! This is the High Priestess of Soul.&uot;For further information on the Nina Simone Project and how you might participate, please visit the Project&squo;s website or contact Dr. Crys Armbrust at (828) 859-6484.

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