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Queen Latifah Belts It Out As Bisexual Blues Singer Bessie Smith

Screen Shot 2015-03-14 at 9.45.53 AMQueen Latifah is serving some serious “when you’re good to Mama” realness in her upcoming film bio of legendary blues singer Bessie Smith. The out entertainer, who received an Academy Award nod for best supporting actress for her work as the lady-loving Mama Morton in the 202 musical Chicago, will headline Bessie, an HBO biopic about the hard-living Smith for out director Dee Rees. For the unfamiliar, Smith was the most successful black vocalist of her era. Despite being married twice, Smith was well-known for her same sex love affairs and even sang a song with explicit lesbian content such called “It’s Dirty But Good.” She died at age 43 in 1937. The drama also star’s Oscar-winner Mo’Nique as Ma Rainey, who is rumored to have been the woman who first introduced Smith to lesbian sex.

The film will premiere on HBO May 16. Watch bisexual Bessie belt below.

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  • Bob LaBlah

    If girl (Queen Latifah) can holla in this movie anywhere close to what she does here in Hairspray this movie is going to be a MUST SEE. Case closed. Jury dismissed. I luv’s me some Queen Latifah. And lord or lord, Mo’nique as ol’ whiskey guzzling Ma’ Rainey? This might be another Oscar winner for her because she fits the part all the way ’round.

    You to girls go. I had been hearing about this movie and do hope it is good. They pick the best two to play both parts. Hope ya’ll enjoy the clip.

  • crowebobby

    I had her cast as Bessie Smith and Pearl Bailey the first time I saw her. Who do I sue for stealing my ideas?

  • jwtraveler

    I hope HBO doesn’t downplay the lesbian aspect. Otherwise this sounds like a great flick and a great role for Latifah.

  • darian

    @jwtraveler: I was just about to say the same. Either way still pretty stoked to see it the trailers look amazing.

  • Bob LaBlah

    @crowebobby: If you “saw” that then surely you can “see” Gabourey Sidibe as Willie Mae “Big Momma” Thornton or better yet, “Big” Mabelle. Looks like I’m not the only one with imagination around here. I do hope this movie is a hit because just about no one remembers the ladies of the blues. Or their songs. Let alone the shit they had to go thru. I am talking about the pre-Sarah Vaughn ladies.

    @jwtraveler: I’m hoping they don’t either but I do hope that they don’t dwell on it. There was simply too much to Bessie and Ma to let it rest on the sexual aspect. This can revive a form of music that is just about all but gone. I asked a few of them that I know (ya’ll know damn well who I mean if you have been following my comments) about the blues and I’ll be damned if the majority could do no better than Denise Lasalle or ol’ Trudy Lynn. One even told me he couldn’t hear the blues angle in the song and had to stop and think when I mentioned Sarah Vaughn but he did recognize Ella Fitzgerald, though he thought she was Mahalia Jackson.

    Lord, I tell you. And to think I am the………………

    The blues, just like jazz, is almost a lost art. What a pity.

  • 1EqualityUSA

    I got goosebumps watching the trailer.

    Bob LaBlah, do not despair. The Blues will never die. The times are different, so the music evolves. In one week, my music could range from bluegrass/ jerry garcia, cuban, mexican, and classical. Like food preparation, some fusion may take place. True, the blues represents an era, but it will not disappear. It’s too strong a base for others. Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, the Dead revered this beautiful gift of unique music, wrought by pain, ongoing, unrelenting pain by a country that turned a blind eye to injustice. The Talking Heads pulled from their own experience and imagination and expressed themselves musically. Rural Texas, the Delta, and the subsequent living conditions had no pull on the Talking Heads, however, the sincerity was just as prevalent. Johnny Cash wrote under duress. Some musicians create their own duress if they have none. I listen to 1920’s and 30’s music knowing it will never be revived. The important part of this last sentence is, “I listen to 1920’s and 30’s music.”

  • Bob LaBlah

    @1EqualityUSA: ” I listen to 1920’s and 30’s music knowing it will never be revived. The important part of this last sentence is, “I listen to 1920’s and 30’s music.”

    Ok, so you should really love this one. They don’t make ’em like her anymore. I don’t agree with all of what you said as far as things “dying” but you do have some very uplifting points. Can you believe only ONE artist, in all of last year, sold a million copies? Only ONE. Taylor Swift, as in the “new” country. What does that tell you about music in general? Notice how not ONE station does not play old music for well over half the day? Ever notice that the “new” songs they play all seem to belong to ONE company as well, regardless of the genre? Country included, believe it or not.

    Thanks hon, nice chatting with you. Take care.

  • Mykaels

    It is so good to hear her sing again.

  • Giancarlo85

    @Bob LaBlah: Artists tend to sell less albums because music often ends up on the internet and downloaded. It’s very difficult for any artist to sell millions of albums these days. Asides from that artists never make their money in that… 90% of album sales does not go to them (rather goes to the label/record company). They typically make their money in concerts/tours… just take a look at all the record breaking concerts/tours in the last decade or so.

    Anyways, as someone who likes the Rolling Stones… I know they have their roots in Muddy Waters and Robert Johnson. Is there another group like the Stones? No. I can tell you that right now they are probably the last of their kind. There are other artists that are still playing that I do like… such as Buddy Guy and BB King, but both are getting up there in age and may not be able to continue as they have for so many years.

    I listen to a wide variety of music and I keep an open mind. I listen to a lot of latin music (pop, reggaeton, latin rock), but I also listen to a lot of classic rock and blues too. I do like some recent music like Lady Gaga (barring her last album which was mediocre at best) and Taylor Swift too.

  • Bob LaBlah

    Here is another songbird who actually performed in drag but is now more or less forgotten. Too bad too because she had a very interesting life. Hope you all enjoy it.

  • tdh1980

    @jwtraveler: I watched all of HBO’s behind-the-scenes “Bessie” footage over the weekend on YouTube, and I’m happy to report that the network doesn’t shy away from her bisexuality in the least. It may prove to be a massive Emmy winner come this fall.

  • Saint Law

    It’s so fucking sad she didn’t even have a gravestone ’til Janis Joplin brought her one.

  • Bob LaBlah

    @Saint Law: “It’s so fucking sad she didn’t even have a gravestone ’til Janis Joplin brought her one.”

    Isn’t the fate of some of these women really sad? Ol’ Gladys Bentley here performed in drag, OWNED a PARK AVE. apartment with her WHITE female lover and was known to be a very smart businesswoman in the entertainment business. Her bio means (or at least sounds a lot like) she was the Oprah of her day. What makes her so fascinating to me is we are talking about the days when so few of them could venture below 110th street without proving they were on their way to work. I find it really sad she turned to religion and announced to the world she was no longer gay in her final days but as a smart businesswoman she had to know television was going to be popular and she could not go on with the gay lifestyle, at least publicly of course Damn, doesn’t that sound a lot like ol’ Oprah Mae and Gayle? They did recently…………well, anyway.

    I do hope HBO looks at the ratings (which should be in the stratosphere with this one) and make a pic about all of the “deviant” divas of that time. I think the timing of the realease/airing is wrong though. It would have been better around the middle of June, pride time. But then that would mean they were intending it for a gay audience, wouldn’t it? Business first, as always.

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