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Beyonce To Portray Legendary Blues Singer Etta James In 'Cadillac Records'
Film about influential record label also features Adrien Brody, Cedric the Entertainer, Jeffrey Wright.Beyoncé is bound for the big screen once again.
The "Irreplaceable" singer will star as legendary blues singer Etta James in Darnell Martin's "Cadillac Records," according to The Hollywood Reporter. She will also serve as one of the movie's executive producers.
"Cadillac Records" will follow the life of influential Chicago-based record-company executive Leonard Chess — who ran the legendary record company with his brother, Phil, through the 1950s and '60s — and the label's lineup of musical icons, including James, Muddy Waters (Jeffrey Wright), Willie Dixon (Cedric the Entertainer) and Little Walter (Columbus Short). Oscar winner Adrien Brody is scheduled to play Chess.
The role is the first for Beyoncé since her turn as www.mtv.com/movies/news/articles/1523138/20060203/story.jhtml">Deena Jones in the musical "Dreamgirls." As Jones, the singer earned two Golden Globe nominations, for Best Actress in a Motion Picture and Best Original Song.
While her "Dreamgirls" character was loosely based on Diana Ross, Beyoncé will have some big shoes to fill as the real-life James. The gutsy and full-figured legend belted out many standout blues and jazz tracks, including "At Last," which she was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame for in 1999.
James has long been a revered figure among female singers. Christina Aguilera has called James her idol and doted on her in interviews. In 2006, as part of InStyle magazine's pairing of singers and their musical mentors, www.mtv.com/news/articles/1535359/20060628/aguilera_christina.jhtml">James and Aguilera met and were photographed together .
"Etta is my all-time favorite singer," Aguilera told MTV News at the time. "I've said it for the last seven years — since I had my first debut record out — in every interview, in every story, in every on- and off-camera question. I mean, all of Etta's old songs, countless songs I could name, I grew up listening to. That music was always such a huge escape for me, even from a young age."
As of press time, no release date had been scheduled for the film.
Chuck Berry’s rock‘n’roll past makes the bIg screen
The original Johnny B Goode is one of the legends portrayed in a film about the Chicago music scene, says www.thefirstpost.co.uk/author,230,charles-laurence">Charles Laurence
Chuck Berry is the last man standing on the rough cut stages where rock'n'roll was born. At 82 and the survivor of three prison terms, he can still "play his guitar like ringing a bell", as he sings of his hit alter-ego Johnny B. Goode, and this year toured a half-dozen countries in Europe, including England.
Now he can see himself portrayed alongside Muddy Waters and Howling Wolf, the legends of the Chicago Blues, at the core of a new movie on the origins of rock, Cadillac Records, opening in America to rave reviews.
The film, written and directed by Darnell Martin and released by TriStar, is hailed in the New York Times as "not - thank goodness - another dutiful musical biopic" but rather an edgy exploration of the world of black Chicago music, warts and all, and how it produced the music that "turns out to be the agent of wholesale cultural transformation".
First came Muddy Waters and Howling Wolf, men born in slave country who brought their guitars with them when they migrated to Chicago in search of jobs. They discovered a new urban sound when they plugged those guitars into amplifiers, and in the 1940s signed with Leonard Chess of Chess Records to create the songs that first went into the charts as "race records".
Berry put rock‘n’roll into the black charts, and the white Billboard charts too
The film is well timed, with Chicago back in the national spotlight. Barack Obama forged his career in Chicago, and this year's presidential election has been, more than anything, a return to power of the city's legendary political "machine".
But the black life depicted in the crucible of rock is a far cry from the shining triumph of the march to the White House. And it is still very much a reality: Chicago has prospered quietly on old-fashioned commodity markets and blue-collar union jobs, but its murder rate is rising again.
Chess exploited his stars as he nurtured them, notoriously sweetening come-on deals with shiny new Cadillac cars. He is played by Adrien Brody, while Jeffery Wright (Colin Powell in Oliver Stone's "W") is Muddy Waters and Eamon Walker is Howling Wolf. Both stars are long dead.
But then came Chuck Berry, a younger man playing in Chicago with a band from St Louis, Missouri, where he was born, and Muddy Waters introduced him to Chess. With a white "hillbilly" twang and a faster tempo, Berry put the first true rock'n'roll records into not just the black charts, but the white Billboard charts as well. "If there's an alternative word to rock and roll," said John Lennon, "it's Chuck Berry."
Berry, played by the contemporary hip-hop star Mos Def, was never the kind to please the 'white liberal', and he has never lost his attitude. He always played for the money rather than the art. Back in St Louis as a teenager he moonlighted in dance bands in the local clubs after his day-job, and he owned a club even before he became a star, in the mid-1950s.
He was born comfortably – his father a building contractor and his mother a teacher who rose to headmistress – but was www.thefirstpost.co.uk/46079,features,chuck-berrys-rocknroll-past-makes-the-big-screen,2">www.thefirstpost.co.uk/assets/images/redrarrow.gif" width="9" border="0" alt="" />
nevertheless drawn to the wild side. His first trip to jail came at 18, for armed robbery. His car had broken down while on a joyride with friends, so he flagged down a ride. Then he pointed a gun at the driver's head, and stole the car. He was released on his 21st birthday.
By the time of his second run-in with the law, he was already a big name, and owner of an "integrated" night club in St Louis. This time he went to jail for a relationship with a 14-year-old girl he had hired for his hat-check, and who had turned to prostitution when she was fired. He was sentenced under the Mann Act to five years.
The last time Berry was in jail – for a brief four months - it was for tax evasion, in 1979. It says something about Berry's status that as part of his sentence he was ordered to play free concerts as community service, and that one of them, at President Carter's request, was at the White House.
it says more about Chuck Berry the man that the tax man came after him in the first place, because he would always demand payment in cash. In Cadillac Records, Muddy Waters complains to Howling Wolf over Chess's greed and double-dealing, and the old man of blues replies: "His job is to make money off you. You're from Mississippi. I thought you would have known that."
Berry still wants his money up-front, and never plays an encore, because that is playing for free. He never did trust a cheque or a promoter's promise, and he never forgets where he, and his music, have come from. www.thefirstpost.co.uk/assets/images/darkerbullet.gif" width="9" border="0" alt="" />
from THE FIRST POST.