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Bebop Spoken There

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Sunday, July 10, 2016

Black is the Color of my Voice - Customs House, South Shields. July 9.

Apphia Campbell (performer)
(Review by Lance).
This one woman show wasn't a tribute to Nina Simone in the form of an "And then Nina Recorded a song which charted at..." In fact, Nina wasn't mentioned although the show's fictional Mena Bordeaux was as much Nina as Apphia was herself.
Campbell held the audience firmly in her hand - she was Simone - and the events that shaped Simone's life such as the assassination of Martin Luther King were given the importance they deserved. Those of us old enough to remember tragic events such as the Birmingham, Alabama, killing of 4 black schoolgirls showed emotion as the memories of that era came flooding back.
Simone recorded many protest songs and Campbell interpreted then perfectly, displaying the quality of the music and the angst of the lyric.
They weren't always sung from verse to coda. Frequently, just  half a chorus, but always enough to get the message across.
A message that still needs to be got across - today more than ever! The gunanigans  in Dallas, Minnesota and elsewhere that seem to be happening daily in America would hardly be tolerated in a banana republic let alone in the world's most powerful nation.
Back to the music.
The songs were superb; I Loves You Porgy; Love me or Leave me; I Put a Spell on You; The Look of Love; Don't Ever Go; Wild is the Wind; Let it Shine; We Shall Overcome; Young, Gifted and Black; I Wish I Knew How it Felt to be Free and, finally, Feeling Good.
An actor, as well as an interpreter of songs, Campbell's rich, soulful, contralto filled the theatre touching hearts and maybe consciences along the way.
The Customs House show was the penultimate one of the tour, The final one is at the Mercury Theatre, Colchester on August 31.
Lance.
PS: Although the recorded backing worked well, I'd have liked to have had a live band incorporated in the show - or even just a pianist. After all Nina Simone did play fine piano...

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