• Video of Live Concert Performed at Nina Simone’s Childhood Home Released

    August 21, 2019

    In celebration of the National Trust’s ongoing campaign to restore and re-imagine Nina Simone’s childhood home, the National Trust and Come Hear North Carolina have just released a concert video of a live musical performance recorded at her Tryon home last month.

    The video features Vanessa Ferguson, a Greensboro artist who gained national fame and fans as a finalist on NBC’s “The Voice,” performing Nina Simone’s classics in the very home where Simone developed her love for the piano.

    The concert was produced by Come Hear North Carolina as part of their In The Water program, a live session series that sheds light on the spaces and places that inspire some of North Carolina’s most renowned musicians.

    The video’s release follows on the heels of a very successful “Nina Simone Weekend,” organized with the N.C. African American Heritage Commission and the N.C. Arts Council which included a special concert featuring Nina’s daughter, Lisa Simone, on Saturday, August 17. Proceeds from the concert will benefit the campaign to rehabilitate her childhood home.

    The public is invited to participate by contributing to a crowdfunding campaign now underway, which has drawn the support of John Legend and Issa Rae. Donations are still being accepted! Don’t miss a chance to be part of history.

    More information on the campaign and the concert series may be found here.

  • New Crowdfunding Campaign to Restore Nina Simone's Childhood Home Gains Support From John Legend and More

    July 1, 2019

    On July 1, 2019, the National Trust announced a crowdfunding campaign through its African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund to support the restoration and preservation of Nina Simone's childhood home in Tryon, North Carolina. This campaign, supported by artists, actors, and musicians including John Legend, will raise funds integral to the exterior restoration of the home where the celebrated singer, pianist and Civil Rights icon’s story began. The home, which has fallen into disrepair requiring urgent revitalization, was designated a National Treasure in June of 2018.

    "Spaces devoted to the history and legacy of people of color, especially women of color, are far too few in America today,” said Legend. “Preserving places like the Nina Simone childhood home will help keep her powerful story alive. This campaign pays tribute to Nina Simone’s unapologetic pursuit of musical, personal, and political freedom and I am proud to be a part of it."

    The National Trust’s crowdfunding campaign will run on IndieGoGo, beginning today, giving the public an opportunity to make donations to this effort, and to purchase newly designed Nina Simone-inspired merchandise including T-shirts, artist prints, pins, and postcards with artwork by Dare Coulter, a North Carolina-based artist working to create positive imagery of people of color.

    The campaign will also include the option to acquire additional merchandise donated by musicians including Talib Kweli and Yusef/Cat Stevens, and actors Mahershala Ali and Issa Rae.

    “With more than 40 albums over five decades, Nina Simone is one of the most acclaimed singers of all time,” said Neil Portnow, Recording Academy President/CEO. “The Recording Academy has honored her legacy through the GRAMMY Hall of Fame and with a Lifetime Achievement Award, both accolades very much deserved. I’m thrilled to know that her talent will continue to live on through the preservation of her childhood home where her artistic journey began.”

    On July 4-6, 2019, the National Trust is bringing the Nina Simone Crowdfunding campaign to the 25th annual Essence Festival, where attendees can claim exclusive perks and learn more about this National Treasure.

  • Envisioning the Future of Nina Simone’s Childhood Home

    May 17, 2019

    The National Trust convened a two-day strategic visioning session in Nina’s hometown of Tryon, N.C. on May 15-16 for local artists, project partners, and preservation experts to craft a strategy for integrating arts and culture programming into all future plans for the home.

    Held at the Tryon Fine Arts Center, and steered by Janeen Bryant of Facilitate Movement, the group explored the life and legacy of Nina Simone as an artist, a woman, an African American and an activist and how her childhood home can be a place to engage with her extraordinary creative spirit and her humble beginnings.

    We are grateful to many local partners for enabling and enriching the visioning session, including the Nina Simone Project; the Tryon Fine Arts Center; the Town of Tryon; Janeen Bryant; jazz artist Nnenna Freelon; musician Daryle Rice; Tryon businesses, and project partners including the World Monuments Fund and Fund II Foundation.

    The visioning session builds upon the momentum generated by the recent HOPE Crew project at the house, which completed important stabilization work on the property, and by the online survey created by the Trust to for the local community to voice their ideas for the home’s future. More than 125 responses were recorded and show a strong degree of interest in the home and enthusiasm for adapting it as a museum or interpreted space and as an artist in residence facility.

    Next steps include finishing the stabilization work and the development of a business plan and a scope of work to guide the total rehabilitation and reuse of the property.

    Participants in visioning session for Nina Simone Childhood Home, Tyron, North Carolina, May 2019
  • HOPE Crew Project Begins at Nina Simone Childhood Home

    May 1, 2019

    On May 2, 2019, a new HOPE Crew (Hands-On Preservation Experience) project began at the Nina Simone Childhood Home, with support from the Fund II Foundation—the largest investment in the program’s history. Simone, whose distinctive voice, sultry blend of classical, blues, and gospel music, and penchant for activism have ensured her decades-long legacy still endures today, grew up in this modest, three-room clapboard home in Tryon, North Carolina.

    Years after Simone's death, when her childhood home had long been empty, it was in danger of demolition. In response to the threat, four African American artists sprang into action and bought the home for $95,000. The National Trust named the home a National Treasure in 2018 with the aim of working with the artists and other partners to preserve the home and ensure that it will endure for generations to come.

    The May 2019 HOPE Crew project is an important first step in preparing Simone's childhood home for extensive rehabilitation and reuse. According to artist and one of the home's current owners, Adam Pendleton, "We want it to become a space for cultivating a kind of present-tense thinking about history and cultural heritage that's oriented towards the future. This partnership with HOPE Crew is making that a reality."

    Seven HOPE Crew participants, provided by the Schenck Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center, will be at the home for several days, repairing and repainting its exterior. Paint for the project was generously provided by Benjamin Moore, a supporter of the National Trust.

    This project, among others throughout the United States, are intended to broaden HOPE Crew's scope to focus on engaging African American youth in learning preservation trades at sites tied to African American achievement and activism.

    The National Trust, in partnership with World Monuments Fund and with support from additional foundations, hired an architect to guide stabilization of the home and will convene a visioning session in May with partners, local stakeholders, artists, and musicians to begin identifying future use options that will inspire a new generation.

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  • Plans Move Forward to Reimagine Nina Simone’s Childhood Home

    February 1, 2019

    The National Trust for Historic Preservation has completed a report describing the current condition of Nina Simone’s childhood home and has offered the owners two options for stabilizing and rehabilitating the home once a re-use plan is selected. The owners have chosen to move forward with repairs that will weather-proof the home, including repairing siding, windows, and the roof. Wherever possible, original materials will be preserved to respect the structure’s historical integrity. Work to stabilize the property will begin in the spring following the selection of a project architect.

    A preservation easement, a voluntary legal agreement wherein the owner agrees to permanently protect a property’s historic character, will also be placed on the home and will carry forward to all future owners.

    The National Trust will also organize a visioning workshop in Tryon this spring that will bring together the artist-owners, local artists, project partners, and preservation experts to craft a strategy for integrating arts and culture programming into all future plans for the home. The public will also be encouraged to weigh in. Following that convening, the National Trust will oversee the development of a business plan and a scope of work to guide the rehabilitation and reuse of the property.

    More information may be found in this January 31 press release.

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