Today we are thrilled to share the second installment of In The Water, our live session series that sheds light on the spaces and places that inspire some of North Carolina's most renowned musicians. In this episode, Vanessa Ferguson, a Greensboro artist who gained national fame and fans as a finalist on NBC's "The Voice," performs 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.
This performance was commissioned by the National Trust for Historic Preservation as a part of their larger effort to save Nina Simone's childhood home.
"It has truly been an honor to record for the In The Water series in an effort to promote the campaign to restore the home of the incomparable Nina Simone,” said Vanessa Ferguson. “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 contributing to a crowdfunding campaign now underway, which has drawn the support of John Legend and Issa Rae.
Vanessa Ferguson stands in front of Nina Simone's Childhood Home | Photo by Sandra Davidson
“Our collaboration with the National Trust takes our year-long 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 recently 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 that included a special concert featuring Nina’s daughter, Lisa Simone, on Saturday, August 17. Proceeds from the concert benefit the campaign to rehabilitate her childhood home.
Videographers: Laura Casteel, Tom Normanly, Matt Zeher
Audio: Matt Zeher
Editing: Sandra Davidson, Matt Zeher
Producer: Sandra Davidson, Carly Jones