The ‘High Priestess Of Soul’ Nina Simone Comes To Life In One-Woman Show

Aug 13, 2019

Yolanda Rabun stars as Nina Simone in a new production about the legendary songstress' life.
Credit Courtesy of Curtis Brown Photography

The musical legacy of Nina Simone is celebrated throughout the world, but to North Carolina she is a special treasure. Simone was born in the town of Tryon, where efforts are underway to turn her childhood home into a space that reflects her dynamic, complex legacy. Last year the National Trust for Historic Preservation officially designated it a “National Treasure.”

Many other efforts are underway in the state to creatively document her story and music, including a new one-woman show from playwright Howard L. Craft. Craft was first commissioned to write a short play about Simone in 2012, and the project has since evolved into the full-length production “No Fear and Blues Long Gone: Nina Simone,” starring songstress and storyteller Yolanda Rabun. A limited five-day run of the production with Playmakers Repertory Company begins Wednesday, Aug. 21 at 7:30 p.m. at PlayMakers Repertory Company in Chapel Hill. The North Carolina Museum of Art and the North Carolina Arts Council will also host a number of events in celebration of Nina Simone this weekend, including a concert and conversation with her daughter Lisa Simone.