The Nina Simone Project (NSP) exists to honor the remarkable life and legacy of a native Tryon, North Carolina daughter, who achieved international recognition for her unique talent and her formidable contribution to the musical arts.

The musical talent of Eunice Waymon, who was born in 1933, evidenced itself early on. By age 4 she had begun to play piano; by age 7, she had begun to play the organ as well—each of which she did for St. Luke’s C.M.E. Church. Waymon’s formal musical training began shortly thereafter under the tutelage of Muriel Mazzanovich, wife of noted artist Lawrence Mazzanovich.

That Waymon possessed a prodigious talent was recognized by many, so much so, that enthusiastic Tryonites created ‘The Eunice Waymon Fund’ to help underwrite the costs of her future studies. Those studies continued with Carl Friedberg at the Juilliard School of Music in New York City and with Vladimer Sokoloff of the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.

Waymon’s professional career, as Nina Simone, began in 1954. Her unique musical style merged a strong classical training with an exceptionally broad range of musical genres, which run the gamut from classical, gospel, and jazz to pop, folk, and spiritual. That Simone asserted a powerful artistic impact upon late-twentieth-century American popular culture is evident in her expansive discography, her musical arrangements and her original compositions.  She was and is a powerful musical force in global theatre.

Your participation in the Nina Simone Project supports the recognition of an international musical legend and an icon of human potential realized.

The Nina Simone Scholarship

The Nina Simone Project creates this needs-based, general scholarship program to support both the short- and long-term educational goals of individuals on career paths who demonstrate economic need. Candidates from all academic disciplines are eligible to apply.

In order to qualify for funding consideration, candidates must be rising sixth graders. Monies from the Nina Simone Scholarship may be used for both formalized academic study and ancillary cultural enrichment opportunities with an educational emphasis.

This scholarship program emulates the 1940s ‘Eunice Waymon Fund,’ informally organized by Waymon’s piano teacher Muriel Mazzanovich and heavily endowed by Tryonites and other Western North Carolina residents to assist young Eunice Waymon with her educational goals. That selfsame civic generosity of spirit gave to the world the talent which became Nina Simone. Your application to this funding program places you in direct line with her. Nina Simone was and is a powerful cultural force in a global theatre; she remains an international musical legend who looms large on the horizon as an icon of human potential realized. Her achievement serves as an  inspiration for all who desire to make their mark. Much luck to you as you endeavor to do the same.


Download the Scholarship application

Crys Armbrust, Ph.D.
Founder & Executive Director
Steering Commitee
Warren J. Carson, Ph. D.
Edward Chapman
Benjamin Ellington
Andrew J. Fletcher
Darren Lynch
Audrey Kendrick
Larry Siler

Lisa Simone Kelly
Ex officio

Frances Waymon-Fox
Ex officio

Dr. Carroll Waymon
Ex officio


The Nina Simone Project exists to honor the remarkable life, musical legacy, and civil rights activism of Nina Simone, and to inspire and support talented youth to reach their full potential.


The Nina Simone Project (NSP) purposes to establish and promote educational scholarship, to commission a Nina Simone sculpture, and to establish an international music festival in Tryon, North Carolina, with supplemental venues in the broader Western North Carolina region.


The Nina Simone Project undertakes to accomplish four related goals:

  • Support a broad-based education program, including:
    • the creation of an endowed Nina Simone scholarship,
    • the development of an educational jazz curriculum highlighting the musical contributions of prominent North Carolinians to the songbook of American popular music,
    • the archival preservation of Simone’s material record
    • the promotion of Simone as an important Tryon and Polk County, North Carolina cultural and heritage resource
  • Commission a life-sized, memorial, bronze sculpture for a public art installation
  • Develop a Trans-World Music Festival in the name of Nina Simone as a signature Tryon, Polk County, North Carolina event
  • Provide outreach partnering opportunities for Simone’s designated charities:
    • Cancer research in underserved communities, arts programming in public education, prevention of abuse against women, and AIDS research, education, & care.