Ladies Sing The Blues: Five R&B Divas In The Movies

As we gear up for the August 14 release of Sparkle, the new Jordin Sparks and Whitney Houston movie about the rise of a powerful girl’s group in the 1950s, we decided to look at some of the films other R&B and hip-hop singers have starred in. Some brought us to tears, others had us in stitches, but they’re all memorable in their own way.

Are you mad for Mahogany? Loony for Last Christmas? Share your favorite diva flicks in the comments!

Click through for Queerty’s roundup of musical divas in the movies. 

Sparkle hits theaters on August 17.

Photo: TriStar Pictures


Rihanna in Battleship

Like Sparkle, Battleship was also an update—but of a board game, not a classic 1970s movie. RiRi went a little out of her comfort zone playing a weapons specialist on the USS John Paul Jones, but with hotties Alexander Skarsgård and Taylor Kitsch on board, they needed to cast someone with some serious star wattage to bring the girl power. Job well done, officer!


Queen Latifah in Chicago

Latifah was divine as matron Mama Morton in the film adaptation of the Broadway classic about killer dillers in the Windy City. The role was hardly as maternal as Houston’s is in Sparkle, but it was still “good” to her: Latifahe earned Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for Best Supporting Actress.


Beyoncé and Jennifer Hudson in Dreamgirls

While they’re both about African-American girl groups, Dreamgirls, the Broadway musical, five years after the original Sparkle movie hit theaters in 1976. Nevertheless this film adaptation stars a pair of tremendously talented divas who both get to show off their vocal prowess. We’re thinking lightning might strike again.



Mariah Carey in Precious

Granted, this one isn’t nearly as glamorous or fun as the other flicks we’ve included but Mimi completely blew us away as a buttoned-down social worker who stands up to Mo’nique’s mother from hell. The fact that she looked so unlike her usual glamorous self is a testament to how serious she took the role. “Pitch perfect,” as Variety wrote at the time.


Diana Ross in The Wiz

We’re not gonna lie: We love The Wiz. It’s utter ridiculous in a totally funked-out 1970s way, but you can’t go wrong with Miss Ross as a modernized Dorothy, even if she was 33.  Throw in performances by Lena Horne, Nispy Russell, Richard Pryor, Thelma Carpenter and Michael Jackson (!) and you’ve got a tornado of talent in one movie.