*With “Bessie” finally airing on HBO, fans of the Dee Rees-directed biopic are now waiting on the June 2 release of the soundtrack, featuring the film’s star Queen Latifah performing Bessie Smith’s material.
The CD will include Latifah’s rendition of “Young Woman Blues,” “Preachin’ The Blues,” “Long Old Road,” “Down Hearted Blues,” “Work House Blues” and “Weepin’ Woman Blues” (a duet with vocalist Pat Bass).
Also included is Latifah’s updated version of “Gimme A Pigfoot and A Bottle Of Beer (2015 Remix),” which was not performed in the film movie. HBO describes the track as “a postmodern reworking of Smith’s original recording featuring newly recorded vocals, ad-libs and raucous banter by Queen Latifah set to enhanced instrumentation remixed and produced by Adam Blackstone and Queen Latifah.”
The album will feature additional modern takes on 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 Cécile 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.”
Rounding out the CD are authentic period recordings from Fats Waller & His Rhythm (“A Good Man Is Hard To Find”), Louis Armstrong & His Orchestra (“[What Did I Do To Be So] Black And Blue”), Sippie Wallace (“I’m A Mighty Tight Woman”) and Kid Ory’s Creole Orchestra (“Ballin’ The Jack”).”
Below, director Dee Rees talks about the differences in style between Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey, and how each singer’s work represented a sexual, geographical and political liberation rarely seen among black women in the early 1900s.
Pre-order the “Bessie” soundtrack on Amazon here.
Below, a behind-the-scenes video on the music of “Bessie”: