Back by popular demand, The Ladies of Simone return to Arts Garage to celebrate the rich artistic legacy of the American musical icon and Empress of Soul, Nina Simone. The Ladies of Simone will perform Nina Simone classics such as “I Loves You Porgy,” “The Look of Love,” “My Baby Just Cares for Me,” “To Be Young, Gifted, and Black”, “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” and more. Don’t Miss the Ladies of Simone, with vocalists Sarah Gracel, Ja’Nia Harden, Toddra Brunson and Deana Butler-Rahming!
Sarah Gracel (Nina #1)
Sarah Gracel is a talented vocalist, an award-winning actress and the owner of The Candy Girls Gourmet Sweets. Sarah was cast in the South Florida premiere of the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center’s musical, Simply Simone & The Music of Nina Simone as Nina #1 in which she portrayed Nina Simone as a youth, innocent, energetic and hopeful for a brighter future. Sarah earned a Best Actress in a Musical South Florida Carbonell Award for her amazing performance in the role of Effie White in Broward Stage Door’s production of Dreamgirls. Known as the “Dramatic Desertress”, Sarah is the CEO of her own dessert company, The Candy Girls Gourmet Sweets.
Ja’Nia Harden (Nina #2)
Ja’Nia Harden is a gifted music artist, educator and author of the children’s book Fat Cat Caterpillar whose stunning voice encompasses genres of music such as jazz, R&B, pop, gospel and more. Ja’Nia is a proud alumnus of FAMU and was cast in the South Florida premiere of the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center’s musical, Simply Simone & The Music of Nina Simone as Nina #2 & The Singer. Ja’Nia brilliantly portrayed Nina Simone on the verge of success, optimistic yet cautious. Her amazing performance displayed a Nina Simone burned by the music business leaving her a little gun shy but maintaining her deepest pleasure in music. As the daughter of legendary WLRN jazz radio personality Len Pace, Ja’Nia’s roots in Jazz music runs deep. In addition, Ja’Nia has opened for music artist Lahla Hathaway and joins her husband John as a creator and member of The Harden Project, a soul-stirring, emotion-provoking and sonically pleasing band whose music features Jazz Fusion, Funk, Soul, and an array of other music genres.
Toddra “Hott Toddi” Brunson (Nina #3)
Toddra “Hott Toddi” Brunson was a cinch to be cast as Nina #3 in the South Florida premiere of the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center’s musical, Simply Simone & The Music of Nina Simone. Toddra portrayal of Nina Simone as an Activist was show stopping and moving. In the production Toddra displayed an angry and ready to buck the system, Nina Simone. Toddra’s incredible performance encompassed Nina Simone’s personal involvement as racial turmoil increased in the United States leaving her psychologically vulnerable and susceptible to moments of emotional exhaustion and collapse. Toddra has starred in many musicals and plays such as Hairspray, Aida, Little shop of Horrors, Caroline or Change, The Colored Museum, The Dahomey Warriors, Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds and she is a sought-after fashion model.
Deana Butler-Rahming (Nina #4)
Deana Butler-Rahming is a renowned South Florida vocalist and actress whose performances have brought audiences to their feet with joy. Her performance in the South Florida premiere of the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center’s musical, Simply Simone & The Music of Nina Simone featured Deana in the role of Nina #4 showcasing Nina Simone in the later years of her career as a wise, yet jaded woman. Deana’s incredible performance of Nina Simone displayed an iconic figure who has seen the way of the world and chose to reject it, rather than continue to live amongst hypocrisy and hatred. She speaks her mind bluntly and doesn’t care who takes offense. Deana has starred in numerous productions including Ain’t Misbehavin’, Storyville, Zooman and the Sign, My Shattered Soul, CloZet Confession, as well as a sought-after vocal artist who is asked to perform regularly. Deana was recognized by the Miami-Dade Gospel Alliance of Music Professionals as a Legend in South Florida gospel music performance.