BLACK IS THE COLOUR OF MY VOICE is a one-woman play written and performed by Apphia Campbell. It is based on the life of Nina Simone, the American Black jazz singer, classical pianist and civil rights activist. Apphia, as Nina, enters the humble bedroom of her recently deceased father. She brings with her a suitcase filled with the treasured object from her life – the dress she wore at her first piano concert, the letters from her former husband, her best-selling album. Surrounded by her father’s meagre possessions, Nina speaks to her father in hopes of some sort of reconciliation or release.  She reflects on the journey that took her from a young piano prodigy to a famous public figure. Much to her family’s disappointment, Nina did not restrict her talent to performing in church. She played the ‘devil’s music’, earning a living in nightclubs and recording records.  Nor did Nina follow the peaceful path designed by Martin Luther King to gain Black rights. Instead, she supported the revolutionary Malcolm-X and a separate Black state, both against the wishes of her father.

Alone on stage Apphia  portrays the love, courage, ambition and tragedy of Nina’s life with words, songs, gestures and a few objects. It is a beautiful portrayal but it only hints at the complexities of Nina’s life.  We do not see that Nina lived in London, France, Liberia, Barbados and The Netherlands. We do not see that Nina abandoned her daughter, suffered from mental problems and battled with cancer.

We do see wonderful acting. We do learn about the 1960s injustice to American Blacks.  We do hear powerful singing. Apphia’s deep voice is very much like Nina’s – a contralto with a big range and a rich vibrato. Nina was known as a jazz singer but she could sing classical, folk and gospel. We would have loved to hear Apphia sing more of Nina’s songs, not just parts of I loves you Porgy, Little Girl Blue, Mississippi Goddam and others.

Apphia Campbell wrote BLACK IS THE COLOUR OF MY VOICE in 2013. It premiered in Singapore to rave reviews. Appia has toured the show around the world since then. The producer is James  Seabright. The show finishes at the Seymour Centre on the 30th March 2024.




    • Hi Liv, Thank you for pointing out the typo. Easily done and easily fixed. Please accept our apologies Apphia. The review has been updated. Enjoy the Easter break. Kindest David

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