Special Concert Film Celebrates Nina Simone’s Legacy and Aids Campaign to Save Her Childhood Home

Vanessa Ferguson

The National Trust for Historic Preservation and Come Hear North Carolina have released a full concert video from Vanessa Ferguson’s recent performance at the childhood home of Nina Simone in Tryon, N.C.  

The segment shows Ms. Ferguson, the Greensboro artist who gained national fame and fans as a finalist on NBC’s “The Voice,” performing Nina Simone’s classics in the home where Simone developed her love for the piano and which is now the subject of a major rehabilitation effort led by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. 

“Nina Simone and her legacy of music and activism inspires artists to harness their voices to make the world a better place,” said Brent Leggs, executive director of the National Trust’s African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund. “Hearing one of these artists, Vanessa Ferguson, bring Nina’s songs to life in the very place where the ‘High Priestess of Soul’ learned to play the piano was transcendent. Once restored, this historic place will continue to inspire generations of artists and activists.”

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

"It has truly been an honor to record for the In The Water series in an effort to promote the campaign, led by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Come Hear NC, to restore the incomparable Nina Simone's home,” Ferguson said. “The preservation of history and art have shaped me into the artist that I am today."

The Nina Simone childhood home, which has been vacant for decades, was scheduled for demolition when four New York City-based artists purchased it in 2016. In June 2018, the National Trust declared the home a National Treasure and, with support from World Monuments Fund and key state and local partners, is now working to stabilize the home, protect it, and develop future uses for the site that honor the legacy of Nina Simone. The public is invited to participate by joining a crowdfunding campaign now underway which has drawn the support of John Legend and Issa Rae.

“Our collaboration with the National Trust takes our yearlong music celebration to a new level,” said Susi H. Hamilton, secretary of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. “Having a talented artist like Vanessa Ferguson performing in Nina Simone’s childhood home is a perfect way to give voice to this important restoration project.”

Come Hear North Carolina and the National Trust also partnered with the N.C. African American Heritage Commission and the N.C. Arts Council to host “Nina Simone Weekend,” a series of events at the North Carolina Museum of Art held earlier in August to celebrate her music and efforts to preserve her legacy.  

To watch the video and to get campaign updates, follow @comehearnc and @savingplaces on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

This press release is related to: