In 1964, the incomparable Nina Simone performed before a sold-out Kleinhans Music Hall amid a harrowing time of political and social unrest.
More than five decades later, the High Priestess of Soul’s civil rights-fueled compositions still reverberate with listeners now navigating their own servings of present-day tumult and suppression. That’s one reason that Buffalo-born performer Drea d’Nur’s “The Spirit of Nina Simone”—set for 8 p.m. Feb. 24 in Kleinhans (3 Symphony Circle) —is such a timely celebration of the late artist’s music and message.
“I just love how she used her art for social change,” D’Nur said in a video testimonial on her website. “She inspired me, and I wanted to create an experience that will hopefully spark a fire in other people.”
To do this, the international recording artist will commandeer the same stage the “Backlash Blues” singer once did, summoning her spirit via emotionally charged works that once stirred a movement. Joined by 10-piece jazz ensemble, modern dance choreography and stunning visuals to honor the career of Simone, pianist and vocalist d’Nur will poignantly wind attendees down the same paths of resistance and recovery the night’s subject once traversed—and at a time when many are in need of some soulful reassurance.
Tickets are $30 to $60 and are available at the Kleinhans Music Hall box office or online at kleinhansbuffalo.org.
D'Nur has a second event planned to celebrate Simone's life. At 7 p.m. Feb. 22 in the Burchfield Penney Art Center (1300 Elmwood Ave.), there will be a free art exhibit followed by a screening of the mini-documentary "The Spirit of Nina Simone in Buffalo." For information, visit officialdreadnur.com