Legacy Recordings will release the soundtrack from the upcoming HBO film Bessie, based on the life of blues great Bessie Smith, on May 12.
Along with Queen Latifah, who stars as Smith in the movie, the soundtrack also includes period recordings by the likes of Louis Armstrong, Kid Ory’s Creole Jazz Band, Fats Waller, Sippie Wallace and Smith, herself.
Queen Latifah said of her involvement “”This is a project that has been close to my heart for many years….to not only star as Bessie Smith but to also produce the film and the soundtrack is a dream for me. Recording this music was an incredible journey and I am proud to be a part of it all.”
Along with the vintage recordings, the album features modern performances of blues, jazz and swing classics including Prove It On Me, performed by Carmen Twillie; See See Rider, performed by Tamar-Kali; Laugh Clown Laugh, performed by Cecile McLorin Salvant; and two new instrumental arrangements from Vince Giordano & The Nighthawks: I’ve Got What It Takes (But It Breaks My Heart To Give It Away) and Hot Time In The Old Town Tonight.
An HBO Films presentation, Bessie stars Oscar® nominee Queen Latifah (“Chicago”) in the title role and focuses on legendary blues singer Bessie Smith’s transformation from a struggling young vocalist into “The Empress of the Blues,” one of the most successful recording artists of the 1920s and an enduring icon today.
Directed by Dee Rees from a screenplay by Rees and Christopher Cleveland & Bettina Gilois, with a story by Rees and Horton Foote, Bessie is executive produced by Richard D. Zanuck, Lili Fini Zanuck, Queen Latifah, Shakim Compere, Shelby Stone and Randi Michel. Ron Schmidt produces.
The film also stars Michael Kenneth Williams as Bessie’s husband, Jack Gee; Khandi Alexander as Bessie’s older sister, Viola; Tory Kittles as Bessie’s older brother, Clarence; Mike Epps as Richard, a bootlegger and romantic interest; Tika Sumpter as Lucille, a performer and romantic interest; Oliver Platt as famed photographer and writer Carl Van Vechten; Bryan Greenberg as renowned record producer and music critic John Hammond; with Charles S. Dutton as Ma Rainey’s husband, William “Pa” Rainey; and Oscar® winner Mo’Nique as blues legend Ma Rainey.
Bessie offers an intimate look at the determined woman whose immense talent and love for music took her from anonymity in the rough-and-tumble world of vaudeville to the 1920s blues scene and international fame. Capturing Bessie’s professional highs and personal lows, the film paints a portrait of a tenacious spirit who, despite her own demons, became a celebrated legend.
Young Woman’s Blues – Queen Latifah
Hot Time In The Old Town – Vince Giordano & The Nighthawks
Prove It On Me – Carmen Twillie
Weary Blues – Louis Armstrong & His Hot Seven
Weepin’ Woman Blues – Queen Latifah & Pat Bass
See See Rider – Tamar-kali
Ballin’ The Jack – Kid Ory’s Creole Jazz Band
Down Hearted Blues – Queen Latifah
A Good Man Is Hard to Find – Fats Waller & His Rhythm
Preachin’ The Blues – Queen Latifah
I’ve Got What It Takes (But It Breaks My Heart To Give It Away) – Vince Giordano & The Nighthawks
Work House Blues – Queen Latifah
I’m a Mighty Tight Woman – Sippie Wallace
(What Did I Do to Be So) Black and Blue – Louis Armstrong And His Orchestra
Laugh, Clown, Laugh – Cecile McLorin Salvant
Long Old Road – Queen Latifah
Gimme A Pigfoot and A Bottle of Beer (2015 Remix) – Bessie Smith featuring Queen Latifah
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