John Legend, Issa Rae Join Campaign to Preserve Late Singer and Activist Nina Simone’s Childhood Home

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A crowdfunding campaign to restore Nina Simone‘s childhood home in Tryon, North Carolina, was announced by the National Trust for Historic Preservation on July 1. The campaign, which is being run through the organization’s African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, has also gotten some major celebrity backing.

Issa Rae, John Legend, Mahershala Ali and other famous names have all joined the effort to either donate gifts, raise awareness or both.

John Legend (left) and Issa Rae (right) are just two of the celebrities who’ve joined the crowdfunding efforts to restore the childhood home Nina Simone (center). (Photos: Rodin Eckenroth / WireImage via Getty Images, David Redfern / Redferns via Getty Images, Rich Polk Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images)

According to IndieGogo, the 90-year-old house — where Simone reportedly learned to play piano — was purchased by four New York-based artists in 2017 when it was facing demolition, and work is already underway.

The donations will be used for “much needed” repairs on the exterior of the house, particularly on the roof and windows.

“I’ve always admired #Nina Simone’s commitment to social justice and the way she used her commanding voice to promote equality,” tweeted Legend earlier this month. “Join me in preserving her legacy by contributing to @SavingPlaces to protect her childhood home.”

News One reports that Rae and Ali have donated items to the campaign, as did Talib Kweli.

People can also buy T-shirts, postcards and other memorabilia of the late singer and activist that were designed by the artist Dare Coulter. Plus, the first 10 people to donate $1,000 or more can join a listening session of the singer’s music inside the North Carolina home.

Simone was born in 1933 and passed away in 2003 at the age of 70. Her recordings of songs like “Strange Fruit” as well as “To Be Young, Gifted, and Black” made her one of the important voices of the civil rights movement. And her music continues to sell today.

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