Review – Black is the Color of my Voice – written and performed by Apphia Campbell

Black is the Color of my Voice – written and performed by Apphia Campbell – New Wolsey Theatre and touring

Inspired by the life of Nina Simone – this was a one woman tour de force of a production that took you through a whirlwind tour of the life of this jazz singer, civil rights activist and some time classical pianist while wrapping you in some of the most beautiful singing ever to grace the New Wolsey stage.

This started off as a low budget show at the Edinburgh fringe but has since gone on a major UK and world wide tour, and is now touring again in 2017.

Apphia Cambell is a charismatic performer who immediately draws you into the story of a young jazz performer who has shut herself in a hotel room and is  trying to eschew tobacco and alcohol as she attempts to commune with her estranged and now deceased father. Through the keepsakes she has brought to remind her of their life we find out about her early life as a child prodigy in a poor but religious family, her aspirations to be a classical pianist only to be turned down by music college because of her colour, her early success as a jazz pianist and her support of the civil rights movement, through her lost childhood sweetheart and subsequent disastrous marriage.

Throughout we were treated to some of Nina’s most famous numbers from ‘I Loves you, Porgy’, her first hit through ‘Feeling Good’, ‘I put a Spell on You’ and her protest song ‘Mississippi Goddam’.

Never slacking in pace or interest this was a gem of a show that at 70 minutes left you wanting more. It was a pity this was only a one night stand on the tour, and also a pity that the New Wolsey had scheduled another black led production in the Studio.

However – if you can catch this show on any of the other dates of her tour I would urge you to do so.

Suzanne Hawkes


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