Apphia Campbell, actress and creator of Fringe hit Black is the Color of My Voice, which is back this year at the Gilded Balloon, channels her idol Nina Simone in Soul Sessions at Assembly Checkpoint. This musical journey features the full-length versions of songs appearing in Black Is the Color as well as other popular favorites.
Soul Sessions is Campbell’s new cabaret style show about her life, travels and how her life is connected to Nina Simone’s. We hear how a disillusioned actress living in New York in 2009 goes on an adventure to live and teach in China with the only Chinese words she knows, the greeting for hello – nǐ hǎo. Apart from mime, the only way she can make herself understood is through song, learning Mandarin through the repertoire of Nina Simone.
With impeccable storytelling and song, the audience hears how Campbell teaches theatre in China before being made redundant and facing the ignorance and racism of her Chinese students who can’t understand why her skin is black and why she wasn’t born in Africa.
This show includes loads of music and laughs. It’s foot-tapping stuff, with comical personal storytelling made possible through song. Campbell is a songstress of superior dimensions, with a mesmorising voice to match, perfectly capturing the musical style and songs of Nina Simone. A joy to behold.