“Gospel is the music of the soul” says Apphia Campbell midway through her romp into the music of Nina Simone. With a voice echoing the very same heart and soul of gospel music which Nina Simone has come to personify, Campbell’s performance is a powerful and captivating journey through her and Simone’s life.
A lesson on empathy and self-love delivered with the panache and emotion of a truly exceptional performer.
The audience is sat in a mixture of the traditional cabaret style circular tables and more conventional theatre style seating. Greeted with a night-sky backdrop of sparkling lights, Campbell completely and totally mesmerises.
A selection of brief anecdotes detail how Campbell’s life was influenced and paralleled the life of her musical icon, which punctuate a selection of Simone’s songs. It’s a feel-good odyssey of gospel; Campbell is completely at ease in her performance, sharing with the audience intimate and often hilarious stories about her life, all the while belting out the iconic songs of Nina Simone. Campbell’s stories about moving abroad and working in China, about her minister of a mother, about love, frame the music to perfection.
Campbell’s extraordinary, pulsating and frankly astonishing vocal talent is on full show, and never falls short. Fan-favourites such as Sinner Man and My Baby Just Cares For Me make their crowd-pleasing appearances, but it is the performance of Simone’s Four Women that simply takes your breath away. It’s a devastating, truly moving performance that removes any possible doubt of Campbell’s love for Simone’s music.
Simone has not just informed Campbell’s life; it has helped her define herself, come to love herself, and set her free from the prejudice and intolerance she has experienced. It is a lesson on empathy and self-love delivered with the panache and emotion of a truly exceptional performer.