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Sparkle Film Screening
Los Angeles Chapter members came out to the William Holden Theatre at Sony Pictures to attend an exclusive private screening of the film Sparkle on August 2. A remake of the 1976 film of the same name, Sparkle is set in Detroit and follows three sisters who form a girl group and soon become Motown sensations, but grapple with the challenges of fame as their close-knit family begins to fall apart. The film stars Jordin Sparks, Whitney Houston, Derek Luke, Mike Epps, Carmen Ejogo, Tika Sumpter, Omari Hardwick and CeeLo Green and features songs from the original film written by soul musician Curtis Mayfield as well as new compositions by R. Kelly.
MC Lyte opened the evening by welcoming the eager crowd to the screening. Bob Santelli, Executive Director of the GRAMMY® Museum, followed by announcing the creation of an exhibit at the Museum simply called “Whitney”. Created from the great demand and numerous requests received, the exhibit celebrates the rich musical legacy of the great singer (the exhibit opens August 15 at the GRAMMY Museum)
Following the screening was an informative Q&A moderated by GRAMMY-nominated producer and Recording Academy Trustee Harvey Mason Jr. and featuring panelists Jordin Sparks (GRAMMY nominee), Salim Akil (Director), Salaam Remi (Composer and Four-Time GRAMMY nominee) and Spring Aspers (Music Supervisor and Executive Vice President, Music Creative Affairs at Sony Pictures Entertainment)
Director Akil noted that the film’s style was inspired by the era as 1968 marked an exciting time of change and empowerment of women. The use of colors and beautiful images went along with the film’s mantra of “pretty pictures”, marking the heyday of Motown. Akil also touched on the hiring of R. Kelly to write and produce songs for the film, stating that Kelly did some amazing work crafting songs created specifically for Jordin and hailed “his ability to talk to artists and create songs ranging in style from “bump and grind” to “I Believe I Can Fly”.
Jordin Sparks commented that upon first getting the script from her agent, “the words for the character Sparkle simply jumped off the page for her”. Being her first starring role in a feature film, she candidly admitted that she nervous during her first auditions, but became more and more comfortable as the process progressed, building a great chemistry with co-star Derek Luke along the way. The songs she sang as the character Sparkle varied from her usual style and the songs themselves were very different from music now. She also noted that she has been working with Harvey Mason Jr. since she was 17, and the comfort level that she has built with him as a vocal producer was crucial to the success of the execution of her songs as a whole.
Composer Salaam Remi addressed how he got the call from Spring Aspers to score the film, based on a suggestion from director Akil. For Remi, the score- and reprising the role that Curtis Mayfield played for the original film presented a challenge, but with the team around him, the time was right for his first role as a major feature film composer.
Music Supervisor Spring Aspers touched on some of the challenges for the film, the need to make sure director Akil got what he needed to be able to tell the story and reflect the emotions of the characters, and general budget allocations for music in feature films.
Harvey Mason Jr., when asked by Jordin how it felt to work on the film, responded that making music for films always presents different challenges than making records. For films, producers are working from a different mindset and with less control, focusing on the tastes as they’re suited to the film’s needs as opposed to their own personal tastes.
This film opens nationwide next week, go check it out when it’s released on August 17 in theatres nationwide.
The Chapter would also like to thank Harvey Mason Jr., Jordin Sparks, Salim Akil, Salaam Remi, Spring Aspers, and MC Lyte for their time and Sony Pictures Studios for generously hosting the screening.