The Black Movie Soundtrack

At The Hollywood Bowl

PE and Me

PE and ME!  We’ve known each other for years, and they delivered a crucial song for the HOUSE PARTY soundtrack, but this is our first photo together. They are really both lovely guys and great to work with. It’s nice to be a fan of the artist and the person. 

Hollywood Bowl Marquis

Hollywood Bowl Marquis

I’ve gone to Hollywood Bowl shows since I came to Los Angeles, but to finally have my own show on the marquee is a charge I haven’t felt since I started making movies and would see film titles on a cinema marquee.  

Whitney Houston in The Bodyguard
photo cred: @pose4rose IG

The Whitney Houston tribute was a highlight of the night. The orchestra provided live accompaniment to clips of her performing in THE BODYGUARD. The audience fell in love with her all over again.  

Blaxploitation montage
photo cred: Chanel Landreaux

The Blaxploitation medley had many musical favorites like Theme From Shaft, Freddie’s Dead from Superfly, and Marvin Gaye’s Trouble Man. The clips were from all three films plus the filmographies of Pam Grier, Fred Williamson, Jim Brown, Jim Kelly and the inimitable Rudy Ray Moore. 

Marcus Miller, Craig Robinson, Bilal, Lelah Hathaway

Musical mastermind Marcus Miller, host with the most Craig Robinson, the eclectic and electric Bilal and the lovely Lalah Hathaway

Lelah Hathaway and Maya Rudolph

Daughters of R & B Royalty – Lalah Hathaway and Maya Rudolph

Cindy Herron, Reggie, Terry Ellis, Rhona Bennett (Flavor Flav) 

Me and the lovely ladies of En Vogue who sound and look great. Note Flav in the background. 

Lalah Hathaway and Bilal

Lalah Hathaway and Bilal

Reggie and Maya Rudolph

Maya’s dad Richard Rudolph convinced her to perform at the show. Thanks Richard!  

We took this picture intending to clown around but it turned out very beautiful. Bibi Green, who took most of the pictures you see here, isn’t just a great manager – she’s a heck of a photographer as well!

Craig Robinson, Marcus Miller, Paul Jackson Jr., Reggie, Wah Wah Watson

Practice was going so well I called Craig Robinson to stop by. He felt the fire coming from Marcus Miller, Paul Jackson Jr. and Wah Wah Watson and hung for hours.  

Anthony Hamilton, Bilal, Wah Wah Watson

Soul men Anthony Hamilton, Bilal and Wah Wah Watson taking a break at rehearsal. 

Princess performing Purple Rain 

Princess (Maya Rudolph and Gretchen Lieberum) lit up the Hollywood Bowl on "Purple Rain"! Thousands of cell phones waved to the groove of the Oscar winning masterpiece as Paul Jackson Jr recreated Prince’s guitar solo perfectly. 

The Hollywood Bowl

For those who have never been, this is what the Bowl looks like. Large amphitheater with center and side screens for clips and shots of the performers. Thanks Nefetari Spencer for the picture!

Marcus Miller, Craig Robinson, Laura Connelly, Reggie

At practice with musical director Marcus Miller, host Craig Robinson, Laura Connelly of the Hollywood Bowl (with Brain Grohl of the Bowl blocked by my head). 

The Hollywood Bowl stage

The Hollywood Bowl stage on show day. The quiet before the groove. 

Pre-show at the Hollywood Bowl

The audience gets to the venue way early and has a nice meal with a little vino before the show starts. Several longtime Bowl subscribers were impressed that the audience didn’t talk or eat through the show. Instead they were pumping it up regardless of age or race!  

John Beasley, Marcus Miller, Anthony Hamilton, Ramon Yslas (in front), Wah Wah Watson, Paul Jackson Jr, Kris Bowers and Louis Cato

John Beasley, keyboards, Marcus Miller, bass and vision, Anthony Hamilton, percussionist Ramon Yslas (in front), the legendary Wah Wah Watson, guitar virtuoso Paul Jackson Jr, and next generation killers Kris Bowers on keys and Louis Cato on drums.   

Review: Five things we learned from the Bowl's black movie music salute 

Public Enemy at the Hollywood Bowl

Chuck D, left, with Flavor Flav onstage with Public Enemy at the Hollywood Bowl Wednesday night. (Craig T. Mathew / Courtesy L.A. Phil)


The most revered black films aren't just beloved for all-star casts or compelling plots -- the soundtracks were just as pivotal. From “Do the Right Thing” to “Boomerang” and “Waiting to Exhale,” the music that scored these was just as lasting.

In a salute at the Hollywood Bowl on Wednesday, beloved tracks from black cinema classics such as “Shaft,” “The Bodyguard” and “Purple Rain” received an orchestral treatment. Grammy-winning musician/composer Marcus Miller and producer/director Reginald Hudlin assembled the show, which covered seven decades of soundtracks.

Clips of iconic black actors like Dorothy Dandridge, Sidney Poitier, Harry Belafonte and Sammy Davis Jr. flashed alongside current box-office draws like Will Smith, Morgan Freeman and Jamie Foxx as the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra breezed through arrangements. Bilal, Anthony Hamilton, Public Enemy, Lalah Hathaway, Princess and En Vogue all popped up to sing and Craig Robinson served as the master of ceremonies.

Here are five things we learned from "The Academy Celebrates the Black Movie Soundtrack" on Wednesday.

1. Anthony Hamilton and Bilal are undervalued soul men. The instant ubiquity of the themes from “Shaft” or “Trouble Man” can’t be denied and the orchestra, led by Vince Mendoza, tackled them with soulful precision. But Hamilton and Bilal unpacked them both with a suave swagger that reminded us how underrated these guys are. Hamilton shined further when he turned the Quincy Jones-composed theme to “In the Heat of the Night” into a scorcher. 

2. Maya Rudolph’s Princess needs a bigger stage. The “Saturday Night Live” alum’s perfected self-deprecating humor has already made her a screen star. But her music chops remain underappreciated outside of her fanbase. Her side-gig, a hilarious take on the rock cover band – Prince, if the band’s name didn’t tip you off – offered the night’s best laughs (apologies to the host). Rudolph and her bestie Gretchen Lieberum are like the boozy gals who turn the boring wedding reception into a rager. Their takes of “Let’s Go Crazy” and “Purple Rain” were a deliciously messy, crowd-pleasing riot, and an easy sell for a big-screen musical.

3. En Vogue’s still got it. The funky divas have gone through more changes than we dare try to count, but the ladies haven’t lost any of their signature sultriness. Their cover of the “Sparkle” classic “Something He Can Feel” was a stunner, even if all the original members weren’t there.

4. “Happy” is tired. We all love Pharrell William’s gleeful pop smash. It’s completely perfect and deserving of the accolades it’s received (there’s some Grammys likely coming its way too). The song is a global phenomenon, but we need a break from it. Williams' hit closed the show courtesy of the night’s performers and a slate of cute kids with bright T-shirts and an endless supply of jazz hands. For a night celebrating the black movie soundtrack, capping things off with a sluggish performance of a hit pulled from a kids' flick without a black voice in the main cast seemed odd.

5. Public Enemy can rock the Bowl. Twenty-five years after its release, Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing” remains a crucial look at racial tensions within neighborhoods. But the film also birthed one of Public Enemy’s greatest records, “Fight the Power.” Seeing the politically charged anthem ring out at the Bowl as Chuck D and Flavor Flav worked the stage was a reminder of hip-hop's lasting influence. But seeing the thousands of fists waving in the air to the music was a poignant reminder that the fight is long from over. 

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Reggie and Craig Robinson

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