Gig Reviews

The Nina In Me – Karen Underwood – NCH


The Nina In MeKaren Underwood – NCH – 25-07-15 – Review

Karen Underwood returned to the National Concert Hall on Saturday night (after her performance in January of this year) with a new show ‘The Nina In Me’. Karen performed along with a three piece band featuring piano, double bass and drums. As you would expect, they perform the work of Nina Simone but we also get an insight into Karen’s life growing up in Chicago and how she ended up in Cork.

The performance opens with ‘I Loves You, Porgy’ which was the song that transformed to career of Nina Simone. It was quickly followed by ‘Mississippi Goddam’ which is one of Nina’s most famous protest songs, and her response to the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama, killing four black children.

There was an introduction to each song focusing on elements of Karen’s life, her family and childhood, growing up in Chicago during the time where the civil rights movement was in full swing. There were memories of the death of Martin Luther King, acts of racism she experienced in school and on public transport and eventually her marriage and move to Cork, Ireland, a place she now calls home. There was also a surprise at the end of the story with another marriage!

Karen has her own voice and there is no attempt to emulate Nina. These are her own interpretations of jazz standards and other songs from Simone’s repertoire. She has a powerful voice and is very charismatic on stage and works the crowd well. There was even a sing along version of ‘He’s got the whole world in his hands’ and the last song of the night was ‘Sinnerman’.

‘Oh, Sinnerman, where you gonna run to?’

It was a night of exploration of the works of Nina Simone and a whistle stop tour of Karen’s life in her own words.

For More information on Karen Underwood, please visit her facebook page here.

Karen and her band play Marlay House on August 20th and 21st. Click here for further information.

For more information on Nina Simone, we strongly recommend the Netflix documentary ‘What Happened, Miss Simone?’

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