In 2021, QCity Metro interviewed Destiny Stone when she was one of several local creatives featured on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) drama series “Delilah,” a show filmed and set in Charlotte.
Two years later, Stone is newly married, a new mom, and still just as passionate about her music. In observance of Black History Month, Stone will perform “Nina Now,” a tribute to Nina Simone, at Queen’s University.
Stone does not recall how she got introduced to Simone’s discography, but she remembers its impact. “Oh, this lady is the bomb,” Stone, who listened to Simone’s music while writing papers and doing homework in college, told me during a recent interview.
During her student tenure at Catawba College, Stone got so into Simone that she did a project to honor Simone on what would have been the singing legend’s 80th birthday. With help from her professor, Stone named the project “Nina Now.”
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“I think the name is perfect because it’s my reimagining of her songs,” Stone said.
“Nina Now” consists of covers of Simone’s classics, like “Mississippi Goddamn,” “Sugar in my Bowl,” “Four Women” and more.
Stone said she gravitated toward Simone because she looked at Simone and saw herself.
“I think representation is so important,” Stone said. “You have talented musicians like Alicia Keys, right? But I don’t look like Alicia Keys. It’s hard to imagine yourself being in those places where you can’t physically see someone who looks like you.”
In addition to being a singer, songwriter, pianist and guitarist, Stone teaches music at Knox Middle School in Salisbury, N.C. Just as Simone was a positive representation for Stone, Stone wants to be a positive model for her students.
“I’m right here, right? If you’re looking for a darker-skinned woman that you can look up to, I want to be a positive representation and let you know, ‘Hey, you know, I want to connect with you. I get it.’”
Stone said teaching is as challenging as it is rewarding. She said her students sometimes approach her, saying they listened to her new song or did not know she made music.
Stone has an 8-year-old stepson and recently gave birth to a second son who turns one next month. Stone said her husband, whom she married in 2020, is very supportive.
“I think one of the first ways to flirt with me was buying one of my CDs. So I guess you get some cool points for that,” Stone said.
Stone’s second son was born via emergency C-section with an irregular heartbeat and Stone not fully dilated. After his birth, Stone got an infection that caused her to stop breastfeeding when her son was four months old. She said she has no regrets, however.
“I don’t want to make it seem like it’s all rainbows and roses around here. But, when I step back and look at it, I’m very blessed,” she said. Stone added that she is grateful for the medical team she had during her pregnancy, given the higher maternal death rate for Black women.
“I’m just grateful to be alive,” she said. “I was able to come out on the other side okay and with a healthy baby.”
Stone said music is a big part of her household and that she has enjoyed sharing her passion for music with her family.
How has your music-making process changed since giving birth?
My timing. There were a few months I didn’t write a song for a long time just because I was consumed in my first year as a mom.
I had some postpartum depression for the first two or so months. Things not going how I planned affected me. It kind of made me question: Did I speak up enough? Should I have fought hard enough to have the type of delivery I wanted?
I was just trying to adjust. My husband has been very helpful in giving me time and space. Almost a year after giving birth, I have been able to find my new normal.
What songs by Nina do you relate to most?
I love “I Wish I Knew How it Would Feel to be Free.” There is also the song “Four Women,” a beautiful song. Her rendition of the “Strange Fruit” is beautiful.
What else is new with your music?
I just released a new song; tomorrow makes it two weeks since it’s been out. It’s called “They Got Nothing On You.” I’ve been getting lots of positive feedback.
I just got booked to perform at a Juneteenth festival in Marshville, North Carolina. On the 25th [of February], I’ll be at the Charlotte Museum African American Heritage Festival.
How did the series “Delilah” impact your career?
It was really exciting. I have a video of my reaction pinned to the top of my Twitter page. To know thousands of people across the country heard my song was cool music to think about, especially as an independent artist. I have a mutual on Twitter that wants to use my music in one of their independent films. So it’s all coming together, piece by piece.