Broadway star Simone to perform at BU

For immediate release: Jan. 30, 2009

BLOOMSBURG — The singer/songwriter/performer who pays tribute to her mother in her professional name, Simone, will perform at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania as a part of the Celebrity Artist Series Friday, Feb. 13, at 8 p.m., in Carver Hall, Kenneth S. Gross Auditorium.

The star of the Broadway tours of "Rent" and "Aida," Simone is known for her wide vocal range and her skill for lyrical interpretation. Born Lisa Celeste Stroud, Simone adopted her professional name in tribute to her mother, the jazz and blues icon Nina Simone, also known as the "high priestess of soul."

Before embarking on a singing career, Simone served in the U.S. Air Force, attaining the rank of staff sergeant. A nightclub performance in Germany led to a gig as a backup singer for an American performer and, later, for Latin superstar Raphael.

Simone toured with Raphael for two years, performing in Europe, South America and North America. Moving to Los Angeles to pursue a musical career, she performed with several groups, at "open-mic" sessions and in children's theater productions before being invited to audition for the national touring company of "Jesus Christ Superstar" in 1995. On tour, she portrayed both Mary Magdalene and Simon, becoming the first woman to play that role during the run.

She was cast as Mimi Marquez in "Rent's" first national tour a year later, earning nominations for the Helen Hayes and Jefferson awards. And, in 2001, Simone took on the lead role in the national touring company of the Tim Rice-Elton John musical "Aida." She reprised the role on Broadway in 2002.

Between performances in "Rent" and "Aida," Simone pursued her interests in jazz performance as the lead singer for the Chicago-based acid jazz band Liquid Soul. Liquid Soul's album "Here's the Deal," featuring songs written by Simone, was nominated for a Grammy award.

Since Nina Simone's death in 2003, her daughter has managed her mother's estate and co-founded the Nina Simone Foundation, a non-profit organization that supports educational opportunities for African American children and children of African descent.

Today, Simone follows the tradition of her mother while presenting a repertoire of pop, soul, jazz, rock and funk in venues worldwide. At BU, she will perform music from her big band tribute CD, "Simone on Simone," released in early 2008.

All programs in the Celebrity Artist Series' 23rd season are being presented in Carver Hall, Kenneth S. Gross Auditorium while Haas Center for the Arts is renovated. Tickets for all events are $20 for adults and $10 for BU students and children under 12.

Bloomsburg University is one of 14 universities in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. The university serves approximately 8,000 students, offering comprehensive programs of study in the colleges of Professional Studies, Business, Liberal Arts and Science and Technology.