“Let’s replace that obelisk with a giant microphone in honor of the late, great Nina Simone!”
In 1949, poet Langston Hughes spoke at the Allen High School in Asheville. One of the students in attendance was Eunice Waymon, later known professionally as Nina Simone. In time, the poet and the singer developed a unique relationship, which author and N.C. State University professor W. Jason Miller is currently documenting in an online archive, Backlash Blues: Nina Simone and Langston Hughes.
It was with great interest that I read of Langston Hughes’ visit to Asheville to speak at the Allen School for Girls in the winter of 1949, but left out was a significant first meeting — that between Mr. Hughes and Eunice Waymon, who would in a few short years be known by her stage […]
Launched in 1887, the Allen High School operated until 1974. Early accounts state that initial classes were held inside a livery stable. But in 1897, an English woman named Marriage Allen donated $1,000 (roughly $31,000 in today’s dollar) for the construction of a proper school.
The past year has brought forth a bumper crop of superb albums in every genre from artists local (or with strong connections) to Asheville and the surrounding region.
The African Americans in Western North Carolina and Southern Appalachia Conference will take place Oct. 18-20 in Asheville. The theme this year is “Making the invisible visible.”
The song selection displays Simone’s mastery at bending various styles to her own particular musical approach. And Simone’s rural Carolina roots show through even in the urban jazz idiom as she plays and sings the gospel favorite “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.”