GBN would like to take a moment to commemorate the birth of one of the most talented musicians to ever grace planet Earth, Aretha Louise Franklin, on what would have been her 78th birthday.
Although 2020 will offer memorials to the Queen in the form of MGM‘s theatrical movie “Respect”starring Jennifer Hudson and the limited series under National Geographic Channel’s “Genius” banner starring Cynthia Erivo, it’s doubtful either will focus on an oft-overlook aspect of Franklin’s myriad talents: her songwriting.
Above you can watch Aretha performing “Think,” one of her best-known compositions in a clip from “The Blues Brothers,” while below you can listen to fourteen more gems penned by Aretha in a Spotify playlist called The Aretha Franklin Songbook:
The nominees for the 91st Academy Awards were announced early this morning by Black-ishstar Tracee Ellis Ross and The Big Sickstar Kumail Nanjiani, and among them were for the first time a superhero movie nominated for Best Picture, Black Panther, and the prolific Spike Lee‘s first nomination in the Best Director category for Black KkKlansman, which also was nominated for Best Picture.
Ever since the #OscarsSoWhite controversy of 2016, the demand for more diversity in movies and television has gained and retained attention. Although there are no African-Americans among the Best Actor or Best Actress nominees, Mexican actress Yalitza Aparicio was recognized for her work in Roma, and among the nominees in the Best Supporting Actress category are Golden Globe winner Regina King for her turn in If Beale Street Could Talk, and Academy Award winner Mahershala Ali, who garnered his third Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor in Green Book.
Other notable African-American Oscar nominees this year are Kendrick Lamar and SZA in the Original Song category for “All The Stars” from Black Panther, and Academy Award winner Jennifer Hudson, who might win for what she first became known for as she is also nominated (with Diane Warren) in the Original Song category for “I’ll Fight” from RBG.
Peter Ramsey, who is co-director on Best Animated Feature Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and Barry Jenkins in the Adapted Screenplay category for If Beale Street Could Talk. Spike Lee earned a second nod in the Adapted Screenplay category as one of the writers of Black KkKlansman.
Another first this year is Hannah Beachler‘s nomination for Production Design for Black Panther, the only African American woman to receive one in this category. Ruth E. Carter earned her third nomination for Costume Design (the first two were for Malcolm X and Amistad) for Black Panther and composer Terence Blanchard, who has scored more than forty films and all of Spike Lee’s, finally earned an Original Score nomination this year for his work on Black KkKlansman.
The Oscars will be broadcast live by ABC on Feb. 24 at 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET. Below is a complete list of all the nominees:
Today was Aretha Franklin‘s homegoing service at Greater Grace Temple in Detroit, MI. Some may have questioned why the Queen of Soul’s ceremony wasn’t held at her father C.L. Franklin‘s New Bethel Baptist Church (she did hold her final viewing there) – perhaps New Bethel just isn’t a big enough space for those attending her ultimate show. Because once again, the Queen sold out the house.
In a send-off equal parts grand and personal, an all-star lineup of speakers and singers included the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, former President Bill Clinton, former first lady Hillary Clinton, professor Michael Eric Dyson, Cicely Tyson, Tyler Perry, Ron Isley, Chaka Khan, Faith Hill, the Rev. Al Sharpton, Jennifer Hudson, Fantasia, Ariana Grande, Gladys Knight, Shirley Caesar, mayors, senators, members of congress, family and loved ones.
Robinson, the Motown great, remembered first hearing Franklin play piano when he was just 8 and remained close to her for the rest of her life, talking for hours at a time. “You’re so special,” he said, before crooning a few lines from his song “Really Gonna Miss You,” with the line “really gonna be different without you.”
Bill Clinton described himself as an Aretha Franklin “groupie” whom he had loved since college days. He traced her life’s journey, praising her as someone who “lived with courage, not without fear, but overcoming her fears.” He remembered attending her last public performance, at Elton John’s AIDS Foundation benefit in November in New York. She looked “desperately ill” but managed to greet him by standing and saying, “How you doin,’ baby?”
Clinton ended by noting that her career spanned from vinyl records to cellphones. He held the microphone near his iPhone and played a snippet of Franklin’s classic “Think,” the audience clapping along. “It’s the key to freedom!” Clinton said.
Rev. Sharpton received loud cheers when he criticized Donald Trump for saying that the singer “worked for” him as he responded to her death. “She performed for you,” Sharpton said of Franklin, who had sung at Trump-owned venues. “She worked for us.” Dyson took it even further by saying, “She worked above you. She worked beyond you. Get your preposition right!”
Many noted her longtime commitment to civil rights and lasting concern for black people. Her friend Greg Mathis, the award-winning reality show host and retired Michigan judge, recalled his last conversation with her. They talked about the tainted water supply in Flint. “You go up there and sock it to ’em,” she urged Mathis.
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan announced during the service that the city, come Tuesday, would rename the riverfront amphitheater Chene Park to “Aretha Franklin Park” to loud applause. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder reminded those in attendance that Aretha Franklin’s voice is designated as a natural resource of the state in the 1980s.
Franklin died Aug. 16 at age 76. Her body arrived early in a 1940 Cadillac LaSalle hearse. She wore a shimmering gold dress, with sequined heels — the fourth outfit Franklin was clothed in during a week of events leading up to her funeral.
The casket was carried to the church that also took Franklin’s father, the renowned minister C.L. Franklin, to his and Parks’ final resting place at Woodlawn Cemetery, where the singer will join them. Pink Cadillacs filled the street outside the church, a reference to a Franklin hit from the 1980s, “Freeway of Love.”
Program covers showed a young Franklin, with a slight smile and sunglasses perched on her nose, and the caption “A Celebration Fit For The Queen.” Large bouquets of pink, lavender, yellow and white flowers flanked her casket.
Family members, among them granddaughter Victorie Franklin and niece Cristal Franklin, spoke with awe and affection as they remembered a world-famous performer who also loved gossip and kept pictures of loved ones on her piano.
Grandson Jordan directed his remarks directly to Franklin, frequently stopping to fight back tears. “I’m sad today, because I’m losing my friend. But I know the imprint she left on this world can never be removed. You showed the world God’s love, and there’s nothing more honorable.”
To see a large part of the almost eight-hour service, click below:
According to Variety.com, Academy Award-winner and former “American Idol” contestant Jennifer Hudson will join Season 13 of NBC’s “The Voice” as a coach. She will be coaching along with Miley Cyrus (returning for a second stint) and regulars Adam Levine and Blake Shelton. Hudson was the winning coach on the U.K. edition of “The Voice” earlier this year.
“Jennifer is an extraordinary vocal talent and one of the premier voices of our time. She embodies the experience, expertise, positivity and sheer talent that “The Voice” stands for,” said Paul Telegdy, NBC’s president of NBC’s alternative and reality group. “Her exceptional skills as a singer and actress have extended to film, television and Broadway, which makes her an incredible addition and a natural fit for our show.”
Hudson was just on NBC in December with her show-stopping performance in the “Hairspray Live” musical, and just released a new single, “Remember Me,” Variety reported.
The Queen of Soul has a lot to celebrate. During the festivities of her 74th birthday at New York City’s Ritz Carlton Hotel, Aretha Franklin announced that her biopic, which faced several delays due to negotiations, has finally been given the green-light.
“I’m in the last of the negotiations, because we have agreed on the key things and the most important things,” Franklin told Huffington Post. “It’s some of the people that were involved in ‘Straight Outta Compton,’ and this is going to be ‘Straight Outta Detroit.”
And who has she casted to play herself? Well, Aretha can’t spill all the tea, but we do know she initially considered Halle Berry and then later named Audra McDonald and Jennifer Hudson as two potential Arethas.
“It’s been a long, long haul, but I think we’re right at it now,” Franklin said. “I spoke to the young lady about a week ago — I won’t say which one of the two it was — but I spoke to her, and she’s ready. We’re going to go forward with it.”
Denzel Washington is also rumored to play Franklin’s father in the film, but all will be revealed in due time.
The film will be based on the singer’s upbringing and legendary career while also shedding light on her personal relationships, including her abusive marriage to Ted White. Plans for this project have been in play since 2011 and Franklin is excited to have been given creative control.
To much surprise, La’ Porsha Renae did not win last night’s final American Idol season. But don’t fret. Look at the great singers who haven’t won, like Jennifer Hudson. La’Porsha has landed a record deal, that will no doubt propel her career.
La’Porsha Renae will be joining the Universal Music Group family, signing with 19/Big Machine/Motown Records, in partnership with Big Machine.
“Because of the overwhelming fan demand and success of the farewell season of American Idol, we have made the decision to sign both the winner, Trent Harmon, and runner-up, La’Porsha Renae, to exclusive recording agreements,” Big Machine Label Group founder and CEO Scott Borchetta tells Billboard. “I can’t think of a better way to bring this American institution to a close. Everyone at the Big Machine Label Group, the Universal Music Group and Motown Records are so thrilled with the outcome and can’t wait to get to work.”
Renae’s album will be overseen by Ethiopia Habtemariam, president of Motown and president of urban music/co-head of creative at Universal Music Publishing Group, who tells Billboard, “We are extremely excited to partner with Big Machine and 19 Entertainment on such an incredible talent as La’Porsha.”
In case you’re not familiar with the power of La’Porsha, check out her stirring performance of “No More Drama” on “Idol” below:
NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon Studios says it has acquired Spike Lee‘s new film as its first Amazon Original Movie.
The film, with the working title “Chi-Raq,” features a cast including Nick Cannon, Wesley Snipes, Jennifer Hudson and Teyonah Parris, as well as D.B. Sweeney, Harry Lennix, Steve Harris and Angela Bassett, plus John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson.
“Chi-Raq” was shot entirely in Chicago and wrapped last week. Directed by Lee, it was co-written by Lee and Kevin Willmott. It focuses on violence in inner-city Chicago.
Amazon Studios’ Ted Hope said, “It would be impossible to find a better filmmaker” than Lee to launch the studio with.
Amazon Original Movies, announced in January, was formed to produce and acquire original movies for theatrical release as well as distribution to its Amazon Prime members.
Jennifer Hudson has an Oscar to her name but might need to make room for a Tony Award, as she is reportedly set to star in the Broadway revival of The Color Purple.
According to the New York Post, Hudson will make her Broadway debut in the revival of the show. The revival is being produced by Oprah Winfrey, who also produced the show in 2005. This time, the production of The Color Purple musical will have more of an emotional appeal.
“This Color Purple comes from London’s Menier Chocolate Factory, which specializes in stripping down big-budget Broadway shows, giving them an emotional punch they lacked the first time around,” the New York Post reports.
Hudson has talked about wanting to take on a Broadway gig for several years. New York Postsources say Oprah called her personally and asked her to join the production.
Hudson will play Celie, who survives abuse, poverty and racism to become a successful seamstress and pants designer. LaChanze won a Tony in the role in 2006.
First Lady Michelle Obama spent Friday, January 17th – her actual birthday – out of sight, with no public appearances, except the tweet of a photo of herself holding up her AARP card. She tweeted, quote, “Excited to join Barack” in the 50-plus club today . “check out my @AARP card!”
But last night, January 18th, Beyoncé and Stevie Wonder rocked the White House at a star-studded, late-night dance party celebrating Obama’s 50th, two guests told the Chicago Tribune today. President Barack Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha joined family friends, elected officials, entertainers, athletes, business executives and big donors at the gala, which kicked off Saturday and lasted until the wee hours Sunday morning, the sources said.
The event was closed to the press, and the White House did not release a guest list or any other details. But two guests spoke to the Tribune on condition of anonymity, describing a bash at which a deejay kept people on the dance floor in the East Room until after 3 a.m. Washington time. VIP guests, according to sources, included political luminaries Bill and Hillary Clinton, Vice President Joe Biden, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, national security adviser Susan Rice, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and Democratic National Committee official Donna Brazile.
Other high-profile guests included Sir Paul McCartney, Magic Johnson, Chicago-born actress/singer Jennifer Hudson, singer Janelle Monae, actor Kal Penn, TV personality Al Roker, actress Ashley Judd, tennis great Billie Jean King, retired Olympic figure-skater Michelle Kwan and Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, the sources said.
By her own admission, Jennifer Hudson is having a “fantastic and surreal year.” The Oscar and Grammy winner, who received a star today, Nov. 13, on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her music work, kicked off 2013 with a trifecta of high-profile performances: the presidential inauguration, the Super Bowl and the Academy Awards.
And as the year winds to a close, she shows no signs of slowing down, conquering all aspects of media. Television? She dropped in on NBC’s Smash for a multi-episode arc. Music? She just released her new single “I Can’t Describe” from her upcoming third studio album. And movies? Hudson has no fewer than three this year, with her long-gestating Winnie Mandela biopic Winnie released in September, followed by The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete, and the upcoming Black Nativity.
It’s the latter film that marks Hudson’s first movie musical since her 2006 film debut in Dreamgirls, which went on to win Hudson an Academy Award for Supporting Actress. She admits that after the success of that film, many movie musicals came courting. “But I was always ‘No, no, not now,’” she says. “And I don’t want to be typecast, because this industry is quick to box you in and say, ‘OK, everything you do should be a musical.’ So I’m very selective.”
But there was something about the message of holidays and family in Black Nativity that persuaded Hudson. A modern retelling of the Nativity story with an all-black cast, Black Nativity is based on Langston Hughes’ acclaimed play, which made its Broadway debut in 1961. Hudson plays the single mother of a troubled teen (Jacob Latimore) who is sent to spend the holidays with his grandparents, played by Forest Whitaker and Angela Bassett.