*HARLEM, NY – Residents of Harlem are use to star-studded events happening at their storied Apollo Theater so not too many events impress them. However, their eyes popped when the premiere of Fox Searchlight contemporary version of the incomparable Langston Hughes’ celebrated play, Black Nativity, brought scores of named stars Uptown.
Luminaries walking the red carpet included the film’s director Kasi Lemmons, producers Bishop T.D. Jakes and Trudie Styler, and all-star cast Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, Jennifer Hudson, Tyrese Gibson, Jacob Latimore, Nasir Jones aka rapper Nas, Luke James, Grace Gibson and Vondie Curtis Hall. The film also stars Mary J. Blige who was unable to attend.
Traffic came to a halt on the famous 1-2-5 Street as onlookers got an up close and personal look at their favorite movie stars as well as other celebrities in attendance including Courtney Vance, Lynn Whitfield, Melanie Griffin, Antonio Banderas, Keisha Nash Whitaker, Sting, Keenyah Hill, Aaron Ross, Sanya Richards-Ross, Antonique Smith, Zendaya, Russell Simmons, Serita Jakes, Sara Jakes, Obediah Wright, Judine Somerville, Malcolm D. Lee, Marija Abney and Alyson Williams.
An exuberant Lemmons greeted the packed to the rafter’s crowd and sprayed her joy all over the Apollo’s renowned stage before sharing with the audience the making of the film which resulted in this impressive evening. Then she proudly introduced her stellar cast and folks behind the scene of the modern-day version of the holiday musical drama penned by Hughes in the 1950’s.
Black Nativity follows Langston (Jacob Latimore), a street-wise teen from Baltimore raised by a single mother Naima (Jennifer Hudson), who is sent packing to The Big Apple to spend the Christmas holiday with his estranged grandparents Reverend Cornell and Aretha Cobbs (Forest Whitaker and Angela Bassett). Unwilling to live by their strict rules, a determined Langston sets out to return home to his mother. His inspirational journey is what prayers are made of as he finds the value of faith, healing and family.
The film received a standing ovation. And as the invitational only guests left the Apollo, waiting buses and limos whisked them over to the fabulous after party held at Marcus Samelsson’s Red Rooster Harlem that spilled downstairs into Ginny’s Supper Club where partygoers enjoyed delicious food and great libations. As guests entered the trendy restaurant located in the heart of Harlem they were greeted by impeccable servers and Vy Higginsen’s gospel singers – led by gifted Ahmaya Knoelle Higginsen — raised the roof with a lively selection of gospel music. Folks did not know whether to pray or dance!
*The foot stomping, hand-clapping inspirational soundtrack to Fox Searchlight Pictures holiday musical drama Black Nativity is Executive Produced by Grammy Award winning artist/producer Raphael Saadiq. The CD features gospel classics and brand new songs performed by award winning cast members Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, Jennifer Hudson, Jacob Latimore, Tyrese Gibson, Mary J. Blige and Nasir “Nas” Jones.
“I loved the experience of working on this film with Kasi Lemons, she is a special friend and talent” said Saadiq. “I most enjoyed the opportunity to work with all the actors and the incredible vocals of Mary J. Blige, Jennifer Hudson, Tyrese Gibson, Jacob Latimore and Luke James. I’ll also remember for the rest of my life watching Forest Whitaker and Angela Bassett sing.”
The Black Nativity soundtrack contains twelve slammin’ songs:
1. Be Grateful (Forest Whitaker & Jennifer Hudson)
2. Coldest Town (Jacob Latimore)
3. Test Of Faith (Jennifer Hudson)
4. Motherless Child (Jacob Latimore feat. Nas)
5. Hush Child (Get You Through This Silent Night) (Jennifer Hudson, Luke
James, Grace Gibson & Jacob Latimore)
6. He Loves Me Still (Angela Bassett & Jennifer Hudson)
7. Can’t Stop Praising His Name (Forest Whitaker & Gospeldelic Choir
8. Sweet Little Jesus Boy (Tyrese)
9. Rise Up Shepherd and Follow (Mary J. Blige & Nas)
10. Fix Me Jesus (Jennifer Hudson)
11. Jesus On the Mainline (Forest Whitaker)
12. As (Cast)
New York based award-winning journalist Audrey J. Bernard covers entertainment, fashion & beauty, film, lifestyles and travel for the Electronic Urban Report and other outlets. Contact her via: [email protected]