John Legend, Mahershala Ali & Issa Rae Sign On To Help Preserve Nina Simone’s Childhood Home
Several high-profile artists are banning together to help raise awareness for a crowdfunding effort to restore and preserve the childhood home of one of the most prolific artists of our time, Nina Simone.
Artists and entertainers like John Legend, Issa Rae, Talib Kweli, Mahershala Ali and Cat Stevens are putting their talents to use to help amplify the effort spearheaded by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, The Citizen-Times reports. Funds will go towards refurbishing the 90-year-old interior of Simone’s home, located in Tryon, North Carolina. The campaign also includes the opportunity to purchase branded merchandise with Simone’s imagery, along with merchandise donated by the above-mentioned artists.
“‘I’ve always admired @NinaSimone’s commitment to social justice and the way she used her commanding voice to promote equality. Join me in preserving her legacy by contributing to @Savin Places to help protect her childhood,” Legend wrote on Twitter.
“Despite its rich history at the root of Simone’s legacy, her childhood home in Tryon sat vacant and neglected following previously unsuccessful preservation efforts. In 2017, when demolition appeared to be the only option, four New York-based artists rallied together and purchased the home so that it could be spared from the wrecking ball,” a description for the fundraiser reads.
Simone, whose real name is Eunice Waymon, was born in Tryon, North Carolina on February 21, 1933 and found her musical imagination underneath the roof of her childhood home. The home stands as the literal foundation of where Simone learned to read music and play the piano.
The trust also plans to institute a plan for programming at the site.
“This modest home in Tryon, North Carolina, embodies the story of a young black girl who transcended the constraints placed on her in the Jim Crow south, to become the voice of the Civil Rights Movement,” said Brent Leggs, the executive director of the trust’s African-American Cultural Heritage Action Fund. “Nina Simone’s childhood home provides an important lens for examining the contours of her life, and through its preservation, we hope to celebrate and cement her legacy in our American narrative.”