Nina Simone Sculpture to be Erected in N.C.

Bronze sculpture stands 8-feet and contains Simone’s remains

Nina Simone Memorial in Tryon, NC
Nina Simone model by Philadelphia sculptor Zenos Frudakis
Nina Simone

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A unique organization dedicated to the memory of the late singer Nina Simone will be erecting a larger than life sized bronze sculpture of the singer in her hometown later this month. The Eunice Waymon-Nina Simone Memorial Project (NSP) was created to commemorate the life and legacy of Simone. The project’s mission statement includes the goals of funding educational scholarships, creating a Trans-World Music Festival and commissioning the sculpture project.

The 8-foot figure was created by sculptor Zenos Frudakis and cast at the Laran Bronze Foundry in Chester, Pa. The sculpture will be unveiled on Feb. 21-Simone’s 77th birthday-during a dedication ceremony followed by a concert in Simone’s hometown of Tryon, N.C. The ceremony will be attended by the singer’s daughter, who posed as a life model for Frudakis, and Stephen Marley.

The sculpture will serve as the focal point of a public art installation in Tryon’s central downtown district at Nina Simone Plaza. A portion of Nina’s remains, donated by her daughter, will be encased within the sculpture.

The Nina Simone Scholarship was launched in 2007 after a $25,000 donation by North Carolina-based plastics recycling firm EcoResin. Since then, Stephen, Damien and Julian Marley’s Ghetto Youths Foundation has partnered with the NSP with a scholarship donation, and in addition Stephen Marley has donated half of the profits from his forthcoming Nina Simone cover CD to the NSP.

The NSP sponsors two general scholarships each year, open to applicants worldwide, and the awards may be used for both academic study and cultural enrichment opportunities. In 2009 Erica Wilkins and Andrew Fletcher were selected as the scholarships recipients, and each received a $1,000 stipend. During her lifetime Simone put a focus on charities related to cancer research, arts programming, the prevention of domestic abuse and AIDS research and care. The NSP aims to support these causes in Simone’s name.

The final goal the NSP hopes to accomplish is a Trans-World Music Festival. The prototype of the festival-tentatively named NinaFest-is anticipated to launch in September 2010 in tandem with Tryon’s 125th anniversary. The festival will include all musical forms as a nod to Simone who crossed the musical spectrum from classical to gospel to jazz and rock and roll.

For more information on the NSP and the sculpture dedication ceremony, visit Nina Simone Project.