Life story

The life story, music of late artist Nina Simone hits the New York stage

The life story and music of late artist Nina Simone plays out on a New York stage, and when Laiona Michelle steps into the role of Simone, she says it’s sometimes like she’s staring into the mirror.

During a difficult time in her career, Michelle began writing “Little Girl Blue”, which is named after Simone’s acclaimed debut album.

“I came out of graduate school as a classically trained actress and wasn’t getting a satisfying job, and so my agent at the time got fed up with me and said you keep complaining , why don’t you just write your own material,” Michelle says. “Do it yourself, and that’s what I did.”

Like the icon she embodies, who has experienced career setbacks, Michelle has set her sights on the stage, through songs made famous by Simone, and dialogues.

It introduces audiences to the music legend’s battles with mental illness and relationships, as well as his civil rights activism, as if they were watching Simone in a 1960s nightclub.

“I took facts from his life and then used my imagination and dug deeper,” Michelle says. “What must she have felt, how was it for her, how did she feel?”

“Little Girl Blue” runs off-Broadway at New World Stages until at least May 22.


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