Tennis legend Venus Williams is hoping to preserve a piece of history.
The New York Post reported Williams is working with the National Trust’s African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, raising money to keep late blues singer Nina Simone’s childhood home. Fundraising efforts will include an online auction, conducted by Sotheby’s, of “exceptional works donated by internationally renowned contemporary artists” as well as a gala at the Pace Gallery on May 20 in New York City.
For the gala, the Grand Slam winner collaborated with artist Adam Pendleton and said each item is unique in itself. “Each of the artists Adam and I have selected for the auction has a unique, powerful voice, and we’ve been moved by their generosity and enthusiasm for this important cause,” Williams said, according to The Black Wall Street Times. The conceptual artist also spoke about why he decided to get involved with this initiative. “Nina Simone is one of the most important musical artists of the 20th century,” Pendleton said. “I’m inspired to be able to protect her legacy by preserving her childhood home. Her music, her vision, cannot be forgotten.”
Pendleton and other artists purchased Simone’s childhood home back in 2017, looking to restore and preserve it. The full exhibition will be on display from May 12 through May 20.
The three-room clapboard house is located in Tryon, NC, where Simone grew up poor. She was raised by her mother, a Methodist preacher, who took notice of her daughter’s natural talent and put her in piano lessons. Years later, she fled to New York City to enroll in the esteemed Julliard. Born Eunice Waymon, she soon changed her name to Nina Simone and began performing in Atlantic City. Outside of her music, she is known for her civil rights activism, which she embedded into her music. One of her most popular songs is “Young, Gifted and Black,” a 1979 ode to Black people urging them to love their Black skin.