Black is the Color of my Voice

The Vaults

Color of my Voice

Black is the Color of my Voice

The Vaults

Reviewed – 28th June 2019



“Campbell has created something full of emotion, with engaging dialogue and beautifully executed vocals”


Nina Simone was born Eunice Kathleen Waymon on 21st February 1933, in Tryon, North Carolina. She was, and still is, widely regarded as one of the most influential recording artists of the 20th century. But what was life like for her? Apphia Campbell has written and also performs in Black is the Color of My Voice, a piece inspired by the life of celebrated performer, Nina Simone.

Campbell, as Simone, is alone in the performance space, delivering her lines to a photograph of her late father, who it is clear she has deep affections for. She very much involves and engages the audience, addressing lines to us, as well as the photograph. Throughout the piece, we are taken on a journey through Simone’s life, from her childhood discovering a love of playing the piano, to her romantic relationships, abuse endured and her commitment to the American Civil Rights Movement. Although the piece is set in one room, furnished with a bed, a desk and chairs, it’s easy to imagine the other various locations spoken about, as a result of the descriptive dialogue and enchanting storytelling.

The emotion and passion shown throughout is inspiring to say the least. You can’t help but be drawn in to each and every experience of the singer that is shared on stage. There are light moments, including amusing impressions of Simone’s mother when she learned of her daughter’s interest in jazz, “the devil’s music”. The darker moments, including a recollection of Simone’s abusive marriage, are heartbreaking and a great deal of empathy is created.

Lighting (Clancy Flynn) and sound (Tom Lishman) design during the section of the piece highlighting Simone’s horror over events surrounding the American Civil Rights Movement is hugely effective. Recordings of real news segments, the aftermath of horrific events and speeches are played, as well as lights flashing as she changes T.V channels. These elements, combined with Campbell’s acting abilities, ensure a highly dramatic and tense section of the piece.

You don’t necessarily need to be a fan of Nina Simone to be absorbed in this show. Apphia Campbell has created something full of emotion, with engaging dialogue and beautifully executed vocals in songs interwoven throughout. Direction by Arran Hawkins and Nate Jacobs has ensured the space is used well and the energy never falters. It’s clear why Campbell’s show has enjoyed worldwide success in recent years.


Reviewed by Emily K Neal

Photography by Geraint Lewis


Black is the Color of my Voice

The Vaults until 13th July


Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Ares | ★★★★ | March 2019
Check In/Check Out | ★★★ | March 2019
Donal The Numb | ★★★★ | March 2019
Essex Girl | ★★★★ | March 2019
Feed | ★★★★ | March 2019
How Eva Von Schnippisch Won WWII | ★★★★ | March 2019
The Talented Mr Ripley | ★★★★ | March 2019
Vulvarine | ★★★★★ | March 2019
Me and my Whale | ★★★ | June 2019
Bare: A Pop Opera | ★★★ | June 2019


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