“Listen to what’s playing right now,” whispers LaChanze. She’s perched atop a plush settee at Harlem’s WXYZ Lounge, recalling her tenure in the touring company of Dreamgirls, when an unmistakable vibrato suddenly suffuses the air like warm mist. “Birds flying high, you know how I feel.” It’s a voice so regal that it changes the pulse of our conversation. It’s Nina Simone.


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