The biopic “Bessie,” starring Queen Latifah as blues legend Bessie Smith, premieres on HBO on Saturday, May 16.
The soundtrack contains a collection of historic and contemporary recordings, including 7 new Queen Latifah performances: “Young Woman Blues,” “Preachin’ The Blues,” “Long Old Road,” “Down Hearted Blues,” “Work House Blues,” “Weepin’ Woman Blues” (a duet with vocalist Pat Bass) and “Gimme A Pigfoot and A Bottle Of Beer (2015 Remix).”
The album alsoBessie Smith’s original “Gimme A Pigfoot and A Bottle Of Beer” 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 also 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.”
Rounded out the soundtrack 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”).
“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,” said Queen Latifah.
An HBO Films presentation, “Bessie” stars Queen Latifah 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” 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 Mo’Nique as blues legend Ma Rainey.
Below you’ll find a series of new clips from the telepic’s production featuring musical numbers sung by Latifah and Mo’Nique: