If Nina Simone were alive today, she would have celebrated her 80th birthday in April. Having passed away ten years ago, Grand Performances and KCRW organized a free evening concert in the heart of downtown Los Angeles celebrating her life. Hosted by KCRW DJ Tom Schnabel, it was an evening that touched on a wide selection of Nina’s vast catalogue. From the upbeat melodies “Ain’t Got No/ I Got Life”, “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free” and “See-Line Woman” to the soulful vibes of “Wild Is The Wind” and “Backlash Blues” to the anthemic “Young, Gifted and Black”, it was a tremendous evening of well rehearsed, beautiful music.
There were females voices aplenty that helped bring Nina’s music to life: Georgia Anne Muldrow, Jimetta Rose, Joi Gilliam (whose sheer red dress definitely caught everyone’s eye), Patrice Quinn, Sonja Marie, and Waberi Jordan. But it was perhaps the sole male vocalist who evoked the most oohs and aahs from the audience: Dwight Trible.
With his robust baritone voice, Dwight Trible sang his two selections with such soulful vigor , it almost overshadowed the rest of the musicians of the evening. He sang with such a pure sense of being in the moment, that it made audience members look to their neighbor in awe.
Grand Performances is a summer concert series that is open to the public. This was the first concert of this series that I have ever attended, and subject to me being able to get there early enough to snag a good location at the venue, I would plan on attending another Grand Performances event. It definitely seemed to be a well organized, family friendly event.