It is 22nd April 1991 and the iconic songstress and civil rights activist Nina Simone gives a legendary performance at the official opening of the NIA Centre in the heart of Manchester, singing many songs that reflected the racial inequalities that were (and are still) present across the world.

Whilst it would be incredibly difficult to replicate that performance, HOME put on for us a fabulous homage to that historic night.

The stage was set for the ‘band’ and a single microphone took centre stage with the atmosphere reminiscent of a smoky supper club.

We were initially treated to a live recording taken from the night itself and it was as if the audience were transported back to 1991, in our mind’s eye imagining the great lady herself then aged 58 but still for whom the word feisty was invented.

When Yemi Bolitawa sang for us it was magical, as if Nina was with us; at least in spirit, with the gutsy performance she gave.

Simone’s songs undoubtedly stand the test of time and are no less meaningful today as they were when they were written. We were treated to the classics My Baby Just Cares for Me, To Be Young, Gifted and Black, Ain’t got no. I got life, Sinnerman, I Put A Spell On You – along with the haunting Billie Holiday song Strange Fruit.


The Untold Orchestra are incredibly tight and polished so listening to them was an absolute delight.

The whole evening was interspersed with both impassioned and poignant tales of Nina shared with us via the ‘storyteller’ Audrey Hall, who now broadcasts with All FM but who had been involved in the media publicity for this event in 1991.

The audience also included founding members of the NIA Centre and no doubt some that would have been at Nina’s original gig, but to those of us who weren’t there back then it was a joy to feel part of this production.

Altogether an amazing story of a remarkable night in Manchester relived.


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