In a move that will delight music-lovers, fundraising efforts have ensured that the birthplace of musician Nina Simone in North Carolina will be preserved. According to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, more than $60,000 (€54,650) has been raised to preserve the house where Simone first discovered her love for music.
The star was born in 30 East Livingston Street, in Tryon, a three-roomed clapboard house at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Then named Eunice Kathleen Waymon, she was the youngest of six children, and was a musical prodigy who taught herself to play the piano at the age of three. The late American singer, songwriter and pianist, who died in April 2003 aged 70, recorded more than 40 albums and was also a civil rights activist.
Nina's old house has been in disrepair for years, but was bought for $95,000 (€81,492) in 2017 by four African-American visual artists: conceptual artist and painter Adam Pendleton, sculptor and painter Rashid Johnson, collagist and filmmaker Ellen Gallagher, and abstract painter Julie Mehretu. The National Trust for Historic Preservation announced in 2018 that it was the newest addition to its National Treasures programme, and it launched a crowdfunding campaign hoping to raise $25,000 (€22,720).
It raised $33,000 (€33,060) and a special concert held at the N.C. Museum of Art in August raised an additional $29,000 (€26,415). Nina's daughter, Lisa Simone, performed some of the music legend’s most iconic songs alongside local big-band ensemble The Tribe Jazz Orchestra. A bronze sculpture of Nina sitting at a keyboard can be found in downtown Tryon, made by artist Zenos Frudakis. The restoration of this house will undoubtedly add to the town's appeal for music-lovers, and will ultimately make it an attractive destination for Nina Simone fans.
“Over the past few months, we have seen an incredible groundswell of support for this National Treasure, and we are appreciative of all the contributions that will help us to protect and activate this home for future generations and cement Nina Simone’s legacy into our American narrative,” says Brent Leggs, executive director for the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund at the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
This article was originally published on June 25 2018 and was updated on October 4 2019.