Welcome Home, Nina Simone
Bronze Sculpture Dedicated in Downtown Tryon, N.C.
Nina Simone, world-renowned singer, songwriter and musician known as the High Priestess of Soul, was born in Tryon, N.C. in 1933. On Sunday, February 21, 2010, on what would have been her 77th birthday, she returned to her hometown when a bronze statue of Simone, seated at her piano, was dedicated in downtown Tryon.
Simone’s family and friends, as well as nearly 500 onlookers, joined together at the Nina Simone Plaza on Trade Street in Tryon to welcome her home. Fans took photographs while seated at the piano with Simone. Simone passed away in 2003, and the over-life-size statue, sculpted by Zenos Frudakis, includes a portion of Simone’s ashes. Watch this video to experience the emotions of the day.
A memorial concert followed, which included poetry and performances by several musicians, including Simone’s daughter, Lisa Simone Kelly. Kelly, a talented singer who performs as Simone, recently released a tribute album to her mother titled Simone on Simone.
Born as Eunice Kathleen Waymon, Simone’s musical talents were recognized early on and fostered through piano lessons sponsored by local benefactors. Simone continued to study music and began her professional career in 1954 as Nina Simone. She was involved in the Civil Rights movement. Simone became famous internationally for her “Black Classical Music” – a term she used to describe her original mix of classical, blues, gospel, jazz and pop music. She lived overseas for much of her life.
The Eunice Waymon-Nina Simone Memorial Project, www.ninasimoneproject.org, commissioned her sculpture, and is planning a Trans-World Music Festival in Tryon in honor of Simone. Simone’s birthplace is being restored by private owners to look as it did during her childhood. For more information on events and attractions in the Tryon area, browse through this web site.