Award-winning cultural activist, performance artist, griot, poet, soul singer, actress Nana Camille Yarbrough talks with Bonnie Johnson about her life and career which coalesced with Nina Simone's contributions to jazz, the civil rights movement and the African diaspora. As a colleague and friend, Simone admired Yarbrough’s writing and often covered her songs onstage.
Born and raised in 1938, Chicago, Camille Yarbrough got her start in dance, touring the world with the pioneer dancer and choreographer Katherine Dunham as a member of The Katherine Dunham Company of Dancers, Singers, and Musicians. Nana Yarbrough's stage credits include James Weldon Johnson's "God's Trombones" and the full cast production, recording and national tour of Lorraine Hansberry's "To Be Young, Gifted and Black"; her film and television credits include acting in the soap operas "Search for Tomorrow" and "Where the Heart Is" as well as the original movie "Shaft". She formerly produced and hosted "Ancestor House", a long-running local cable television show on the Manhattan Neighborhood Network. She spent twelve years teaching African Studies at City College of New York, wrote four children's books and also taught drama and poetry to young students while working with Jazz Mobile, a program that utilized poets in the public schools. Notably, vocals from "Take Yo'. Praise", a track on her first solo album The Iron Pot Cooker (Vanguard Records) were sampled on the international chart topping hit "Praise You", by techno-musician Fatboy Nana Yarbrough's most recent projects include writing her autobiography; she is an active lecturer and arts presenter. In 2016, she was honored for her contributions to education and community by Make The Grade Foundation and also received The Lorraine Hansberry Award.
Tune in! ~ #ColorsOfJazz ~ Sunday, 12 pm-ET.
In tribute to Nina Simone (born Eunice Kathleen Waymon) February 21, 1933 - April 21, 2003
By Bonnie Johnson