by Brian Robin
Season Spotlight—"Nina Simone: Four Women"
She blended a distinctive musical voice with penetrating activism that burned its way into the conscience of America with a heat and light unmistakable in its intensity.
As an entertainer, Nina Simone broke the mold, blending jazz, blues, folk, pop and classical styles into a distinct musical gumbo she made her own. As a social commentator, Simone broke another mold: taking her considerable musical gifts and turning them into activism at a time when that was simply not done.
This is the Nina Simone explored in depth in Nina Simone: Four Women by Christina Ham. Directed by Logan Vaughn, the play with music leads off SCR’s 2022-23 season Oct. 2-23 on the Julianne Argyros Stage.
Known as “The High Priestess of Soul,” Simone is regarded as one of the 20th century’s most influential recording artists of jazz, R&B and cabaret.Rolling Stone ranked her the 29th greatest singer of all time. But following the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL., Simone shifted her talents to activism. Along the way, she created some of the most powerful civil rights anthems ever composed.
Ham brings those to you in a deeply personal play with music that imagines how the iconic chanteuse forged her true calling—and gave voice to countless other Black women fighting to overcome stereotypes and racism. Included are Simone’s most impactful songs, including “To Be Young, Gifted and Black,” “Go Limp” and “Mississippi Goddam.” Songs illustrating Simone’s belief that “an artist’s responsibility is to reflect the times.”
See the powerful Nina Simone: Four Women with the worry-free feature of a season subscription. Season subscriptions are now on sale by visiting SCR.org.