The Academy Celebrates The Black Movie Soundtrack
The Hollywood Bowl, September 3rd
Here are some of the songs you’ll hear in the show interspersed with an essay I wrote on the show.
Stormy Weather – Jumping Jive
The Black Movie Soundtrack was born with the advent of sound in movies itself. When Al Jolson speaks directly to the audience and says “you ain’t heard nothing yet” before launching into a ragtime, Black music in movies is established as a signifier of what is modern and hip. As musical styles evolved, from jazz to soul to hip hop, the significance of Black music in movies, regardless of the race of film’s cast, has been a dominant force in American cinema for nearly 100 years. This is why tonight’s celebration of The Black Movie Soundtrack is so important. We will be showcasing some of the greatest music ever made. In fact, often, the music is better than the movies that showcase it. But in some ways, that is an unfair comparison. Black music is arguably the most sophisticated form of artistic expression in our culture. Movies are pretty great too, but it’s hard to compete with composers who wrote for film like Duke Ellington, Quincy Jones, Oliver Nelson, Isaac Hayes, Curtis Mayfield, Marvin Gaye, Prince, Marcus Miller, LA Reid & Babyface, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, and Pharrell Williams.
In The Heat Of The Night
When I sat down to make a list of tunes to be featured in this evening’s program, the first pass was 130 songs long. Knowing that we would be lucky to fit 20 songs into the evening’s program, I had to accept the idea that an audience member would be disappointed by the absence of the their favorite jam in the lineup, so I apologize but it could not be helped. The good news is that the playlist was a bounty of riches, and could be edited in any number of ways. We could do a night of jazz tunes. We could have done three nights focusing on the great music soundtracks of the 1970s. We could do an evening of Prince’s music in movies alone. We could do a night of hip-hop in cinema. While those are all programs that we might try to execute in the future, we thought that it would be best to start with an overview of Black music in movies for the last 75 years.
Earth, Wind And Fire – Sweet Sweetback’s Badass Song
My first phone call was to my favorite music collaborator, the brilliant Marcus Miller. When we first started working together on the soundtrack of House Party, he told me about a week into his teenage years, when he was invited to join three bands: Miles Davis, Quincy Jones, and Weather Report. He chose Miles Davis and went on to produce several albums for him. With extraordinary dexterity, he was also Luther Vandross’ producer for his illustrious career. He also has a long career as a film composer for many directors including myself. Marcus quickly fell into a working groove with Hollywood Bowl conductor Vincent Mendoza.
Rose Royce – Car Wash
Usually classic Black music is not revived, and if it is, it is stripped of its lush ornamentation. Not tonight. You will hear songs like Theme From Shaft with a full string orchestra! We are also making a point to feature score and not just hit songs in tonight’s program. You will be hearing some great score cues from movies like Sweet Sweetback’s Badasssss Song, Boomerang and He Got Game.
Curtis Mayfield – Freddie’s Dead
In the same way Quincy Jones, Duke Ellington and Oliver Nelson were the most prominent composers of early black film soundtracks, the work of Isaac Hayes, Curtis Mayfield and Marvin Gaye dominates the 1970s “Blaxploitation” era.
Isaac Hayes – Theme From Shaft
If there is a single song that personifies the idea of The Black Movie Soundtrack, it is Isaac Hayes’Theme From Shaft. A legendary songwriter with Stax records turned solo artist, for Isaac Hayes, Shaft was the perfect canvas to express his widescreen sonic ambitions with music that harnessed the power of an orchestra with the groove of state of the art soul music to make an enduring classic that won one for the most deserved best song Oscars in Academy history.
En Vogue – Giving Him Something He Can Feel
Sparkle was one of three soundtracks by Curtis Mayfield. He was already a legend from his work with The Impressions, with songs like People Get Ready and Gypsy Woman, as well as huge solo career. But one could argue that Curtis Mayfield’s work on Superfly was his masterpiece. The lyrics of the soundtrack create a great chorus effect that critiques the story and the characters on screen. The combination of the music, the fashions, and the timely storyline all combine to make Superfly one of the most important films of its era. In addition to Superfly and Sparkle, Curtis Mayfield famously collaborated with Gladys Knight on the soundtrack to Claudine, another beloved film whose music is integral to the popularity of the film.
Marvin Gaye - Trouble Man
Marvin Gaye’s Trouble Man is an underrated soundtrack, although aficionados of the genre love it. Marvin was not happy with the soundtrack for Trouble Man, so he rerecorded it entirely before it was released commercially; meaning the music in the film is quite different from the music on the album. Years later, John Singleton used large chunks of the score for his action film Four Brothers.
Prince – Let’s Go Crazy
The next Black artist to receive an Oscar for best song is Prince for Purple Rain. All of his soundtrack albums – Purple Rain, Parade, Batman And Graffitti Bridge – capture a genius at the peak of his talents.
Public Enemy – Fight The Power
I was a fan of Public Enemy from their debut. Their music felt like the summation of all the potential of hip hop both musically and lyrically. Public Enemy has done a lot of significant movies, including the song ‘Bring The Noise’ from the movie Less Than Zero, as well as songs in many films by Spike Lee. I was fortunate enough to work with Public Enemy on my first feature film, where they delivered yet another amazing song called ‘I Can’t Do Nothin’ For You Man.’
Pharrell – Happy
The beat goes on with Pharrell, whose work on the Despicable Me franchise is as impactful as his hit records with Jay Z, Snoop and his own solo career. Happy is one of the most accurately named songs in history, and it achieves the goal of any artist – to bring the whole world together on the One.
Marcus Miller – Boomerang
I would like to thank the Academy of Motion Pictures, the Hollywood Bowl, Laura Connelly, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, Marcus Miller, Vince Mendoza, Jeff Kent and our host Craig Robinson for making a dream come true.
Anthony Hamilton – Freedom
The Academy Celebrates The Black Movie Soundtrackâ€¨
Behind The Scenes Of This Yearâ€™s Image Awards
I wanted to post these earlier, but I was too busy making the doggone show!
Here’s Stevie Wonder, America’s National Treasure, in rehearsal. One of the keyboardists in his band was jamming one of my favorite songs, Weather Report’s YOUNG AND FINE to warm up.
After hearing Stevie run it down, I made the executive decision to give him more time and add one more song to the medley. More is always more with Stevie.
These signs help the crew in rehearsal so they know how to position themselves to capture crowd reactions and winners as they walk to the stage.
California Attorney General Kamala Harris with her very adorable Godchildren being interviewed on the Red Carpet by Kevin Frazier.
During the Red Carpet show (a NAACP Award first!), I ran into screenwriter John Ridley, who won an Image Award and an Oscar for 12 YEARS A SLAVE.
When I saw two the biggest stars in Hollywood talking backstage, I had to capture Kevin Hart and Tyler Perry together. Kevin was the big winner of the night with awards for best actor in a sitcom, best sitcom for REAL HUSBANDS OF HOLLYWOOD and Entertainer of the Year.
After the show, me and fellow producers Phil Gurin and Byron Phillips took a picture with friends and family. Many of these people grew up with me in East St. Louis. Others are more recent but no less dear. These people are what it’s all about.
Reginald Hudlin Interviews Denys Cowan On The Importance Of Education!
Denys Cowan and I attended an education conference given by Black Enterprise and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. ProfessU, one of the attendees, wanted to interview us, so I took the mike and interviewed Denys about his educational background. The results may not be what he had in mind when he asked us to do it, but it was still very interesting.
Miles And Me
Me with Miles Davis’ ex-wife Frances. My wife met her years ago and she kept her fascinated with great stories from her life. She danced with the great Kathrine Dunham, who changed our families’ life as well.
The Davis family hosted a small exhibition of Miles Davis’ art at a gallery in Los Angeles to celebrate the publication of a coffee table book of his work.
The art was cool, with music spun by the son of Stanley Clarke. I kicked with Vince Wilburn, Miles’ nephew and a bandleader his self; Nas, who calmly told a hear-wrenching story of owning and losing an original piece of Miles’ art; and some folks who know my mom, because everywhere I go in LA I meet people who love my mom. She has a busier social life than me.
Nas, Vince Wilburn, Miles’ son Erin Davis. Vince grew up in East St. Louis too.
Inner City Filmmakers Commencement
Rick Hess, an old friend of mine I met when he was an executive at TriStar when I first came to Hollywood, called and asked if I would speak at the graduation of Inner City Filmmakers, which I was glad to do. I knew if Rick was involved, it was worthwhile, and I’m always happy to talk to kids.
This was one of those events that is so inspiring, I worked extra hard to give to the kids as much as they were giving me.
I met the kids at the reception where we took this picture. Mainly Latin and Black kids who otherwise would not get a chance to work in the entertainment business.
The folks who put it together are Fred Heinrich and Stephania Lipner, a husband wife team who basically gave up a successful career in commercials to do this full time.
The event was at the Academy of Motion Pictures…here I am posing with two of their executives. Bettina Fisher heads up their education efforts, and Vic Bullock just joined the organization after a long tenure at the NAACP.
First they showed a reel of alumni of the program who have gone on to have great careers in the business, down to winning Emmys. Then I got up and did a question and answer session with Rick Hess (who is Chairman of the ICF Board) and then opened it up to questions from the audience. The questions were smart, real, and made me dig deep.
Afterwards they showed the short films the kids did…so much great talent! I hope to bring some of them onboard my upcoming projects.
Reggie At The DGA
Fresh from moderating the DGA tribute to John Singleton, here I am having an off the record conversation with the DGA African American Steering Committee. In the photo is Carl Seaton, Oz Scott, yours truly, Jeff Byrd, Abdul Malik Abbott and DGA President Paris Barclay.
DGA members Carl Weathers, Dwight Williams and Craig Ross Jr. When Apollo Creed gives you a compliment, your day is made. Dwight Williams is a legend in the business…he not only had nice things to say, but incredible stories that inspired me. Craig is true independent who keeps making films. What a great way to spend an afternoon!
Here’s the DGA description of the event:
A Conversation with Reginald Hudlin
July 13, 2013
The African American Steering Committee (AASC) hosted a conversation with Director/Producer Reginald Hudlin following their regular monthly meeting in the Los Angeles Boardroom on July 13.
Although known as the director of features such as House Party and Boomerang, the main topic of discussion was Hudlin’s work as a producer on Quentin Tarantino’s controversial feature Django Unchained.
In the film, a freed slave (Jamie Foxx) sets out to rescue his wife from a brutal Mississippi plantation owner (Leonardo DiCaprio) with the help of a German bounty hunter (Christophe Waltz). Django Unchained earned multiple honors including an Academy Award nomination for “Best Picture,” a “Best Supporting Actor” Oscar for Waltz, and a “Best Original Screenplay” Oscar for Tarantino.
Hudlin sat down with Director/AASC Co-Chair Carl Seaton, (One Week, Of Boys and Men) who moderated a conversation that explored the challenges of making the film, the controversy surrounding its subject matter, and the global success of Django Unchained.
In addition to the aforementioned features, Hudlin’s directing filmography includes the feature films The Great White Hype, Serving Sara, and The Ladies Man; as well as episodes of television series such as Bones, Modern Family, The Office, The Bernie Mac Show, and Everybody Hates Chris.
Hudlin has been a member of the DGA since 1991.
San Diego Comic-Con 2013
This is me and the hilarious, inventive and hard working Orlando Jones at the annual Black Panel. People were really coveting my custom, limited edition Milestone shirt.
I wasn’t on the panel this year so I got to sit next to friend and Hidden Beach Records owner Steve McKeever and enjoy the show. With hilarity from Orlando Jones AND Wayne Brady, and deep insights from the brilliant artist Ken Lashley, it was the best black panel ever.
Even though I was not scheduled to be on the panel, Orlando sent a DJANGO question my way since I was in the audience. I was asked if DJANGO will change Hollywood’s attitude about films with black heroes.
The panel immediately following was the 20th Anniversary tribute to Milestone. Here is a awesome piece of art by John Jennings.
I was the moderator of the Milestone Panel. But the panel started with the Milestone founders Denys Cowan, Derek Dingle and Michael Davis getting Inkpot Awards from the San Diego Comicon. It was a pretty magical moment.
Here’s Denys with his Inkpot Award in one hand, and a fan-made Hardware helmet in the other.
Here are the surviving Milestone founders Michael, Derek and Denys with their awards. My line of questions about the early days of Milestone actually made Michael cry, which shocked EVERYONE who knows him.
Here’s Ken Lashley with actor and voiceover king Phil LaMarr, who is the voice of Static Shock, among a million other jobs.
Here I am (with my Got Funk shirt gifted from Bootsy himself) with amazing artist Shawn Martinborough.
After talking with Marvel Editor In Chief Axel Alonso at the Marvel party the night before, I accepted his invitation to crash the John Romita Jr tribute panel. Axel himself moderated the discussion with the defining Marvel artist, and penciller on the first six issues of BLACK PANTHER. Here I am with Axel, JR Jr, and brilliant inker Klaus Jansen. Sorry for the soft focus on the picture, but that’s because we all felt warm and fuzzy.
Me And JJ Abrams At The Producerâ€™s Guild Conference
Because of my work on DJANGO UNCHAINED, I am a member of the Producer’s Guild, which makes me very proud. What made me prouder was JJ Abrams asking me to interview him for his appearance at the PGA’s “Produced By…” conference.
I asked JJ the questions I wanted to know, like how, as a devoted dad, he balanced work and home life, and how he decided which projects to take on. I also wondered what he learned from two parents in the business.
Before the session, I got a haircut. When they found out where I was going, they insisted that I ask whether the new STAR WARS movie would use material from the “extended universe” novels. JJ said the question was beneath me, and wondered what kind of barbershop I am going to. But between debating Kobe vs. MJ and Ghostface vs. Tupac, such conversation did take place and I had to represent. No answer was forthcoming. Still, a good time was had by all.
Miles 20 Years Later
This is not from the LA show, but this gives a fraction of the feeling of the night.
Miles left the planet 20 years ago, but his music, his cultural affect continues. Three of his alumni, Marcus Miller, Herbie Hancock (lot of alliteration there) and Wayne Shorter teamed up and did a series of concerts celebrating his music. Since Miles didn’t look back, they turned the music inside out and arranged as the soundtrack to Miles’ dreams.
After going backstage, I was leaving with my man Steve McKeever and said I had never met Herbie Hancock. Steve said he’s never taken a picture with him. So we went back to fix both those mistakes.
Herbie was lovely and we got the dope picture with Herbie and Marcus in the shot. Niiiice, real nice.
John Singleton Tribute At The DGA
Speaking of John Singleton, John asked me to moderate a discussion with him about his work in a star studded tribute to his career. As John said, it was like our conversations in the parking lot of Golden Apple Comics, but now with a audience of hundreds watching.
I got a lot of great emails from people who enjoyed our comfort with each other along with our different styles.
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