Simone festival dates announced

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 23, 2010

Momentum behind the organization of a music festival in honor of Tryon native and music legend Nina Simone continues to grow with the announcement of festival dates.
Organizers announced recently that The Nina Simone World Music Festival will be held Sept. 9-11, 2011.
Eunice Waymon – Nina Simone Memorial Project Executive Director Crys Armbrust anticipates the event serving as a true testament to Simone’s own musical breadth.
“This will be perhaps as diverse a music festival as you will ever encounter because we aim to bring local, regional, national and international artists to converge on multiple stages throughout Tryon,” Armbrust said.
Simone herself is recognized for her skillful performance of any number of genres – jazz, gospel, classical, blues, spiritual and folk.
“She is an artist unlike any other. For the whole of her performance career no one could accurately categorize her – she literally did all musical forms,” Armbrust said of Nina Simone. “What I find absolutely compelling is how she defined herself as a musician and a performer…. She said, ‘What I am is a folk singer.’”
One special festival guest can attest to Simone’s love for all things musical. Simone’s daughter, Simone, who recently produced an album entitled “Simone on Simone” covering 14 of her mother’s songs, has agreed to perform at the event. Simone also possesses extensive Broadway theater credits for leading roles in “Jesus Christ Superstar,” “Rent” and “Aida.”
“She is an incredible vocalist working now on her second and third albums,” Armbrust said.
He said he was particularly excited about Simone’s addition, as well as several other internationally acclaimed members of the music community.
Joseph Jennings, Grammy- award-winning music director of the a cappella group Chanticleer, has agreed to perform with one or more of his ensembles. He also recently joined the music festival committee.
“His contribution will bring a great deal of solid musical presence to the festival,” Armbrust said.
The partnership came about by Jennings leading Armbrust’s own composition of a male chorus performance of Squire Parson’s “Sweet Beulah Land” on the East Coast. Jennings led the premier of Armbrust’s work in San Francisco two years ago.
Another addition, according to the project website, is that of entrepreneur David Nathan, “the British Ambassador of Soul.” Nathan published the book “The Soulful Divas,” a collection of personal portraits of musical divas, including Nina Simone, Aretha Franklin and Patti LaBelle. Nathan and his sister, Sylvia, also co-authored the first biography of Simone, “Nina Simone: Break Down and Let It All Out” in 2004.
Armbrust said, “Nathan’s deep immersion in the music industry and his broad experience at multiple levels within the industry will prove invaluable as the Simone Project [continues planning] for the upcoming Nina Simone Music Festival.”
Armbrust said the committee of organizers sees the occasion as a forum for community building.
He said it would not only bring together people of similar performance interest but also those of similar listening taste.
The launching of The Nina Simone World Music Festival completes the last of three main aims for The Eunice Waymon – Nina Simone Memorial Project. The first two included establishing scholarships for talented students and commissioning the creation of a Nina Simone memorial statue, which now sits in downtown Tryon.
The Eunice Waymon—Nina Simone Memorial Project is currently seeking both sponsors and underwriters for the Nina Simone World Music Festival. For more information, visit

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