Sometimes (often), I get too caught up with the doing that I miss out on the dreaming. I’m finding it helpful for my soul to be in regular contact with people who are natural dreamers. This has been the case with a current project, “Singing Nina: a cultural festival and conference.” I met David Rose at my favorite coffee shop in 2018, and David shared a dream with me. His concept was to produce a concert of Nina Simone’s music as performed by musicians from the Curtis Institute, putting an interesting spin on Miss Simone famously being denied admission to that institution. I loved the idea, but thought that it would require a fair amount of work, doing custom arrangements for a string ensemble, plus recruiting the players, etc. I quickly went into “doing” mode.
By total coincidence, I’m in the middle of making a record with violinist Monique Brooks Roberts. Monique is part of a string ensemble called Rootstock Republic, who already presents a program called “Dear Nina,” an evening of Nina Simone’s music arranged for string quartet, bass, harp, piano, and voice.
Sometimes life aligns in a beautiful way. I thought it would be a good idea to have a sit down with a person I greatly admire and respect, Jim Hamilton. Jim has an incredible studio in Germantown, and presents concerts monthly. His perspective would be vital to the conversation started by David and myself. After our first meeting, it became clear that we should present a festival around various locations in Germantown to celebrate the life and music of Nina Simone. One night of dreaming, and we have a festival. Almost.
Of course, without an audience, there is no festival. Otherwise, it would just be a really fun day of activities for David, Jim, and myself. So please, dear reader, I encourage you to check out the links below to read about the festival lineup, and get involved if it resonates with you.