Nina Simone was born Eunice Kathleen Waymon in Tryon, NC in 1933. She was musically gifted from a young age and her experience singing gospel in the church influenced her jazz performance style that would later make Simone an international superstar. Simone also lent her voice to the Civil Rights Movement with powerful, socially conscious songs like “Young, Gifted and Black” and “Mississippi Goddamn.” While she found success as a performer and activist, Simone also suffered from mental illness, which tore apart her personal relationships. The Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is celebrating the life and legacy of Nina Simone this week.
There is an exhibition of Simone’s letters and rare photographs and the debut of an original, one-woman play called “Nina Simone…What More Can I Say?” Host Frank Stasio discusses the power of Nina Simone’s voice and personality with Nadine Cohodas, author of “Princess Noire: The Tumultuous Reign of Nina Simone” (UNC Press/2012); Sam Stephenson, Lehman-Brady Joint Visiting Professor of Documentary Studies and American Studies at Duke and UNC-Chapel Hill; Joseph Jordan, Director of the Sonja Haynes Stone Center; Howard Craft and Yolanda Rabun, the playwright and star of “Nina Simone…What More Can I Say?”