Rapper Noname Boosts Campaign to Preserve Nina Simone's Childhood Home

Noname (Fatimah Warner) performing at Phoenix Concert Theatre. (Nyaomi for The Come Up Show/Flickr)

Rapper and record producer Noname wants to preserve the childhood home of legendary jazz singer Nina Simone and she’s hoping others will join in. The contemporary poet shared a campaign to restore the small, abandoned home in Tryon, North Carolina.

“#NinaSimone is literally one of the most important Black American [artists] we had. Join me and @savingplaces to preserve Nina Simone’s legacy by restoring her childhood home,” Noname tweeted on July 1. She linked to a campaign led by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.“Less than two percent of our national parks, monuments, and historic sites are dedicated to women’s history, while less than six percent focus on African American history,” the rapper added.

According to Paste Magazine, the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund is underwriting the campaign. The home sat vacant and neglected after previously unsuccessful efforts to preserve it, the organization said. In 2017, four New York City-based artists bought the home for $95,000 and rescued it from being demolished.

Simone’s childhood home was named a National Treasure by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in June 2018.

“Nina Simone’s distinctive voice and social critique in the mid-20th century was unlike anything America had ever heard before,” said Stephanie Meeks, president and CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, at the time.“And while her musical and social justice legacy burns bright, her childhood home has been neglected. We’re delighted to work with the home’s new owners and the local community to chart a new future for the property that will honor her tremendous contributions to American society and inspire new generations of artists and activists to engage with her legacy,” Meeks added.

In May, the organization announced that a Hands-On Preservation Experience (HOPE) Crew would begin working on Simone’s childhood home. The legendary singer, a renowned civil rights icon, grew up in the modest, three-room clapboard North Carolina home. At the age of 3-years-old, Simone taught herself the piano at her home. The organization took on the project to preserve Simone’s home for “extensive rehabilitation and reuse.“We want it to become a space for cultivating a kind of present-tense thinking about history and cultural heritage that’s oriented towards the future,” Adam Pendleton, one of the home’s current owners, said in a statement in May. “This partnership with HOPE Crew is making that a reality.”

The seven-member HOPE Crew’s task is to repair and repaint the home’s exterior. On Indiegogo, more than 250 backers have donated $12,062, or 48 percent of the campaign’s $25,000 goal, to help salvage the home. Donors can receive a perk for their donations, including an art print for a $10 donation or a bundled collection of all the items including t-shirts, prints, pins, and a postcard pack for a $75 donation.Ten donors who give $1,000 to the campaign will be able to experience childhood home listening sessions — an event organized by the campaign that provides the donor with “access to the home for a private, hour-long listening session and a tour of the home.” The organization noted that throughout the campaign it plans to release additional items for sale to benefit the restoration of Simone’s childhood home.

“Crazy that we even have to crowdfund to #SaveNinaCrib,” Noname said in a now deletedtweet. “Erasure is real but n— not going, in a day we raised 20 percent of the funds!!! May seem small but money is tight for most people so that’s huge to me. Old heads always saying we don’t care but look what we did.”

Born Eunice Waymon in 1933, Nina Simone transformed the music industry and was a fearless voice in the civil rights movement who also helped pave the way for other women of color. Simone, known as the “High Priestess of Soul,” earned several Grammy nominations. She also performed at the close of the Selma to Montgomery March led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Noname is not the only celebrity to join the effort to preserve Simone’s childhood home. Singer John Legend also shared his support. “This campaign pays tribute to Nina Simone’s unapologetic pursuit of musical, personal, and political freedom and I am proud to be a part of it,” Legend said.

About the Author

Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various venues, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Asia and Australia.