Efforts are being renewed to save and restore Nina Simone's childhood 650-square-foot home in Tryon, North Carolina. Born in 1933, Simone was the sixth of eight children.
With time, the three-room clapboard house fell into disrepair. As for the little girl - christened Eunice Waymon - who first nurtured her talents there? She flourished, eventually adopting the name Nina Simone. “I didn’t get interested in music,” she said in a 1984 interview. “It was a gift from God.”
For years, many locals didn’t know about the house’s famous occupant, who died in 2003. But in 2017, artist Adam Pendleton and three others, made headlines when they purchased it for $95,000. The National Trust for Historic Preservation designated the site a “National Treasure” in 2018. Since then, supporters have made several attempts to raise money to renovate it, bringing in about $500,000.
Now, tennis icon Venus Williams has joined the cause, partnering with Pendleton to curate a benefit auction. Running from May 12 to 22, the sale will culminate in a gala dinner at the Pace Gallery in New York City. The pair hopes to raise $5 million.
“I’m so excited to be a part of this expansive project centering on the life and legacy of Nina Simone, who has been a huge inspiration for so many,” says Williams in a statement from the National Trust. “Each of the artists Adam and I have selected for the auction has a unique, powerful voice, and we’ve been moved by their generosity and enthusiasm for this important cause.”
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