Venus Williams is restoring Nina Simone's historic home in North Carolina – here's how

'I'm so excited to be a part of this expansive project centering on the life and legacy of Nina Simone': how the tennis star is restoring the singer's 'humble' childhood home

Venus Williams
(Image credit: GettyImages)

Venus Williams is working to restore Nina Simone's historic home in North Carolina – marking an (unexpected) meeting of two icons – in their own right. 

Tennis star Venus, a former world No. 1 (in both singles and doubles), has collaborated with conceptual artist Adam Pendleton to raise money for the late singer's childhood home. Adam jointly purchased the abandoned property in Tryon, North Carolina, for $95,000 in 2017.

Venus and Adam are working alongside the National Trust's African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund to hold a benefit gala in New York on May 20 – raising funds to preserve the 'humble' home's original decorating style that looks the same as when the singer resided in the 30s. 

Alongside preserving Nina Simone's home, the historic fundraiser aims to draw attention to its lasting cultural legacy and personal significance to all the artists donating work to the benefit. 

Nina Simone

Nina Simone

(Image credit: GettyImages)

'I'm so excited to be a part of this expansive project centering on the life and legacy of Nina Simone, who has been a huge inspiration for so many,' Venus Williams says in a statement. 

'Each of the artists Adam Pendleton and I have selected for the auction has a unique, powerful voice, and we've been moved by their generosity and enthusiasm for this important cause. It's been a privilege to collaborate with Adam in curating the auction.'

Nina Simone (born in 1933) developed a love for the piano in her childhood home – where she lived with her mother, a devout Methodist preacher, and her entrepreneurial father. Her legacy continues after her death in 2003 – as, in recent years, it has included the Oscar-nominated documentary What Happened, Miss Simone? that was released in 2015. 

Alongside the Academy-recognised documentary, NPR included Nina's 1965 song Put a Spell on You as the number three album on their 150 Greatest Albums Made by Women list – further solidifying her legacy.

Nina Simone

The piano in Nina Simone's childhood home

(Image credit: Nancy Pierce/National Trust for Historic Preservation)

'Throughout her career, Simone exhibited musical genius that couldn’t be denied or ignored,' adds the Nation Trust for Historic Places, which is involved with the auction. 

'She traveled the world and performed for over four decades, often following momentous historical events like the Selma to Montgomery March and Dr. King’s assassination. She was, in short, a motivating figure for audiences worldwide.'

Venus, Adam, artists Rashid Johnson, Julie Mehretu, and filmmaker Ellen Gallagher are working with the Nina Simone ProjectWorld Monuments Fund, and the North Carolina African American Heritage Commission to preserve the historic home for centuries to come – where Nina's legacy will no doubt endure. 

I Put A Spell On You: The Autobiography Of Nina Simone |from $3.72 on Amazon

I Put A Spell On You: The Autobiography Of Nina Simone |from $3.72 on Amazon 

Described as having undiminished passion and her unconquerable voice, this autobiography accompanies Nina Simone's powerful and 'tempestuous life.'

Megan Slack
Head of Celebrity Style News

Megan is the Head of Celebrity Style News at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes, before becoming H&G's News Editor in April 2022. She now leads the Celebrity/ News team. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.