Drea d’Nur evokes “The Spirit of Nina” at Kleinhans
The singer, songwriter, and pianist is joined by a ten-piece jazz ensemble, a string section, actors, and dancers as she visits the repertoire of one of her musical heroes
Drea D’Nur visits the repertoire of Nina Simone on February 24 at Kleinhans
In late 1964, the one and only Nina Simone captivated a full house at Kleinhans with her inimitable mix of jazz, soul, R&B, blues, folk, and classical music. It was one of several visits the legendary diva and civil rights activist paid to our area during her trailblazing if turbulent career, and I can only assume it was an extraordinary night for everyone in attendance. If, like me, you never had the chance to catch the vocalist and pianist in concert before her death in 2003, you won’t want to miss Buffalo-based performer and recording artist Drea D’Nur taking the same stage on February 24 for an ambitious multi-media tribute to Simone.
d’Nur, a stunning singer, songwriter, and pianist in her own right, will be joined by a ten-piece jazz ensemble, a string section, actors, and dancers as she visits the repertoire of one of her musical heroes. As I’ve already suggested, Simone was one of a kind, and aside from a promotional photo shoot for the show, d’Nur doesn’t usually look or sound much like her—but is clearly influenced by her songwriting, delivery, and political commitment—so it’s safe to anticipate more of a heartfelt personal homage than a mere act of impersonation. (For evidence of d’Nur’s uncanny ability to evoke one of her idols while still putting her own spin on their songs, seek out her dazzling cover of Etta James’s “I’d Rather Go Blind” from a 2015 appearance at the Tralf online.)
During the show, d’Nur promises she’ll also pay tribute to the late, great Buffalo musical legend Emile Lattimer, who, though best known locally as a percussionist, teacher, and bandleader, first toured and recorded with Simone as a guitarist in the late 1960s. The two collaborated on a gorgeous adaptation of the traditional ballad “Black Is the Color of My True Love’s Hair,” two versions of which (one with Simone’s lead vocals and one with Lattimer’s) are included on the classic 1970 album Black Gold.