Celebrating the life, legacy of Nina Simone

Published 8:00 am Friday, June 15, 2018

Concert to honor Tryon-native singer, activist Tuesday at Rogers Park

TRYON — Folks near and far are invited to celebrate Tryon’s own Nina Simone next week with a concert at Rogers Park.

“Celebrating Nina Simone” will begin at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the park and amphitheater, located at 55 W. Howard St., Tryon, across from the fire department.

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The concert will include the musical talents of Daryle Ryce, Destiny Stone, Drea DNur, Firecracker Jazz Band, Kat Williams, Lori Corda, Lyric and Ol’ 74 Jazz & Friends.

The public is invited. While the event is free, donations are appreciated.

The town has been sprucing up the Nina Simone Plaza this week, located downtown across from the Tryon Theatre. The plaza includes a life-sized statue of Simone at a piano.

Simone was born in Tryon as Eunice Waymon, and spent four decades singing in multiple genres. Known as the “High Priestess of Soul,” Simone was inducted posthumously this year into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She died in 2003 at the age of 70.

Nina Simone Project Founder and Director Crys Armbrust said any day or night suffices to celebrate Simone, especially considering her career spanned four decades and produced songs that still speak to artists and listeners in powerful ways.

“The 19 of June, popularly known as ‘Juneteenth,’ is a supremely significant date, too, to celebrate Nina Simone, as it commemorates the June 19, 1865, announcement of the emancipation of the last remaining enslaved people in the United States,” Armbrust said. “Considering Simone’s civil rights activism and her catalog of protest music, the day seems to go hand-in-hand with a Nina concert.”

Armbrust said Tuesday’s concert should draw an array of people, from musicians to Simone fans, locally, regionally and nationally, “each of whom brings something of their own vision of Nina to the celebration.”

“On one hand, the concert embodies in miniature the prototype for a Nina Simone Festival,” Armbrust said. “On the other hand, it is just another example, common enough in Tryon, of the extraordinarily rich, musical traditions in our small Blue Ridge mountain community.”

Warren Carson will be the master of ceremonies of the concert, with Beau Menetre serving as the concert’s executive producer and stage manager.

The Tryon Town Council postponed its monthly meeting, originally scheduled for Tuesday, until Thursday because of the concert.

A tour of Simone’s birthplace in Tryon will take place prior to the concert, but anyone wanting to attend the tour must sign up online, as places are limited and available on a first come basis. To sign up for the tour, may visit eventbrite.com/e/celebrating-nina-simone-tickets-46524302441?utm-medium=discovery&utm-campaign=social&utm-content=attendeeshare&aff=esfb&utm-source=fb&utm-term=listing.

Residents are encouraged to come early to the concert and to bring a chair.

In case of rain, the concert will be moved to the Tryon Fine Arts Center.