Tennis superstar Venus Williams has teamed up with conceptual artist Adam Pendleton to preserve the house where the late singer Nina Simone grew up.
In collaboration with the National Trust’s African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, Williams is raising money to renovate the North Carolina property.
The fundraising endeavor will be two-fold, and include both an auction of “exceptional works donated by internationally renowned contemporary artists” conducted by Sotheby’s, beginning online May 11 and closing May 22 — as well as a ticketed gala at Manhattan’s Pace Gallery on May 20.
“Through this project, the Action Fund aims to restore the birthplace of musical icon and civil rights activist Nina Simone in Tryon, North Carolina,” reads a press release on the National Trust for Historic Preservation website, adding that Simone’s cultural legacy is “of great personal significance to all the artists donating work.”
Simone, who was born Eunice Waymon in 1933, spent her childhood in the three-room clapboard house — attending church with her mother, a Methodist preacher.
It was during this time that community members recognized Simone’s nascent talent and the then 6-year-old prodigy began taking private piano lessons.
Eventually, in 1950, she moved to New York City to attend Julliard — then began performing in Atlantic City, changed her name, and gradually became the High Priestess of Soul and a Civil Rights activist, according to her estate.
She passed away in 2003, at the age of 70.
Until 2017, “little was known” about the humble house she came of age in when Pendleton and a group of other artists — Ellen Gallagher, Rashid Johnson, and Julie Mehretu — decided to jointly purchase it, to safeguard its legacy.
Now, a variety of groups and individuals are working together to decide how best to preserve the space.
Currently, those involved are undecided if the house should be maintained as it is or renovated to include a modern amenity-equipped expansion that could be used as an artist residency.
Ex-Brit turned Manhattan resident since 2008.