Many months back, I talked with Valerie Stephens to convince her to bring her Nina Simone show Four Women back to the Firehouse. She had other ideas. She had taken on the challenge of truly understanding hip-hop, an art form she just hadn’t been able to wrap her head around. Within this process, she found a few young artists that worked with her. Now, Valerie has been a fan/student/admirer/performer of Nina Simone for a LONG time. As she learned and understood more about this newer art, she essentially had the idea, “What would Nina think?” and the answer was: Nina would have been right there performing with these young artists. And a new show idea was born. And we set a date, and Valerie went about collecting a cast of characters.
We set the date: April 21.2018. Fifteen years from the day that Nina died. And then this happened: The Rock N Roll Hall of Fame announced that Nina Simone would be inducted as one of the legendary influencers into the Hall on April 14, 2018. And then this happened: Kendrick Lamar becomes THE FIRST hip-hop rapper to be awarded a Pulitzer Prize for his album DAMN on April 16, 2018.
Mississippi God Damn. Young, Gifted & Black. I Sing Just To Know I’m Alive.
As Mary J. Blige said this past weekend, “Her songs about injustice, struggle, and black life resonate to this day. They’re just as relevant to Ferguson or Baltimore or Mississippi as they were to the civil rights era. And, of course, hip-hop took notice, with artists such as Ms. Lauryn Hill, Kanye West, Common, Jay-Z and myself, amongst others, sampling her extensively, and she has influenced countless singers”.
This weekend, Valerie Stephens will be joined by Daniel Day (bass), Zayra Pola Ocasio (drums) Yuki Monolog Kanesaka (piano) and Art Collins (spoken word). They will honor Nina Simone and bring original work. They will take us through their personal journey of music, performance and art. I get chills just thinking about it. I hope you’ll join us. Tickets at the door or in advance at Amazing Things’ website.