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My Weekender is a weekly column written by changing authors selected from the Shanghai community. According to the various tastes, interests and backgrounds of its authors, My Weekender serves as a window into what residents in the city are doing with their time off.

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[My Weekender]: Apphia Campbell

May 17, 2013

Apphia Campbell is a professional singer who also acts and teaches musical drama. Next Thursday her new show Black Is the Color of My Voice, inspired by the life of Nina Simone, opens at Anken Green.

My weekends usually start Saturday night, after singing at my last gig of the week. Then, they carry on until Monday evening. I sing five nights a week at various venues, and feel so fortunate to do what I love. In addition to being a full-time singer, I’m also an actress, writer, producer and part-time musical theatre teacher.

This Friday, we’re going into the final dress rehearsal for my new show, Black Is the Color of My Voice. It’s the third play I’ve written and produced. It’s also the one I’m most passionate about. It was inspired by the life of American legend Nina Simone. The lead character, Mena, after the untimely death of her father, seeks the help of a witch doctor who sends her on the road to redemption. It features songs such as “Feeling Good,” “I Put a Spell on You,” and many more to help tell her story.

I’ve been working on this love child of mine for a couple of years and I’m so excited and anxious to be birthing and introducing this baby to the world. This summer, I’ll also be performing it at the Midtown International Theatre Festival in New York. So happy.

After rehearsal, I will head home for a quick bite and a 30-minute power nap, then head to work at a quaint little restaurant in Lujiazui. After singing to the non-listening, over-priced-dinner-eating crowd, I will rejuvenate my spirits by singing at the hopping and always energetic Cotton Club. Denise will give her sensual, energetic and seasoned performance. I’ll belt out a few of my favorite funk and blues songs. Eddie Lew and Greg Smith will battle it out on the guitar, while I accompany them with vocals and my handy cowbell. Yep, that’s right! We always end the night with laughter and joy. It’s like my home.

On Saturday, I'll start off by meeting and recouping with my one of my good friends. We’ll head to brunch, probably at the Pancake House or Big Bamboo because it’s within walking distance to us, then head over to Perfect Nails on Fahuazhen and Panyu to get my perfect 25rmb manicure and 50rmb pedicure. Best prices in the city, and I do love a bargain!

After I say goodbye to my friend, I’ll drop by Kush for a pumpkin salad and falafel wrap. It’s the best vegetarian in the city. I’ll eat a bit then head home, take a quick power nap, get ready and start my night. Headed to that quaint little restaurant again. The best thing about the place is that the musician I play with is amazing. We create all kinds of songs together, and then we head over to Cotton Club to rock again. I’ll end the night with a bit more wine than I should, because HEEEYYY, it’s Friday for me! That’s usually how I feel, but since the show is opening soon, I’ll be drinking more water and preserving my voice for the first week of opening.

Sunday, finally, it’s Sunday! Usually my roommate and I have a date on Sunday mornings to catch up on the shows we can’t watch together during the week. Our current obsession is Scandal. I just love me a good drama. I usually make a good ol' American breakfast for us: pancakes, fried eggs, chicken sausage and a big glass of orange juice. It goes well with our American TV. I try not to leave the house on Sunday, but since this week the weather will be beautiful, I’ll fill my afternoon up with artistic duties.

Up first, I’ll go listen to my friend Redic and his all-star band at the House of Blues and Jazz down on the Bund. He has such a soulful voice and a wonderful energy on stage. After eating and dancing a bit, I’ll relax by heading over to the Jameson Cult Film Screening at the River South Art Centre. I can’t pass up a good drink and a great movie.

I think the first movie on is A Chinese Odyssey, then The Usual Suspects, which I saw a couple years ago after an ex raved about it. Is it the one where the men stand around talking for two hours? I digress. After jogging my memory, I’ll head home early and spend an hour going over my lines. Even though I wrote the play, the words still escape me sometimes. Then I’ll watch a few clips of Nina Simone on Youtube, shut my eyes to her soothing voice and smile, happy that I can soon share her story with the world.

Photo by Babette Pérez,