With history as an indicator, it was probably a safe assumption that the awards season for African-American entertainment, specifically cinema, officially ended with last week’s NAACP Image Awards.
The big awards show that occurs the following week is clearly not geared toward us. The films selected for top honors at the Oscars are usually cures for insomnia and except for a very, very select few brothers and sisters that are nominated for awards, for the most part, we usually feel like we don’t have enough proverbial horses in the race to warrant viewership.
This year, however, had a different feel. It was as if the Image Awards were a precursor for the Academy Awards. How real is that?
From the onset of the Image Awards, celebrities strutted down the red carpet to the same song that rocked the usually stiff live audience for the Oscars—“Happy” by Pharrell Williams, which was an Academy Award nominee for Best Original Song. While Williams is not a stranger to the Oscar ceremonies (he, along with composer Hans Zimmer, scored Oscars in 2012), but to be nominated and perform?! Crazy! That was a big win, even though he didn’t take the trophy home.
As for the film categories, John Ridley, Lupita Nyong’o and “12 Years a Slave” repeated their Image Award victories by taking down the wins for Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress and Best Picure respectively.
This year’s Academy Award ceremony marked the 75th anniversary of Hattie McDaniel’s win as Best Supporting Actress in the epic “Gone With the Wind,” making her the first African-American to win an Academy Award. While quite a few people feel a way about the content and depiction of the year’s best film, we, as descendants of Solomon Northup and McDaniels, still need to have a sense of pride in these accomplishments.
Under the radar was the Academy Award-winning documentary “20 Feet from Stardom.” The film, which was directed by Morgan Neville, shines the spotlight on the untold true story of background singers who have backed some of the greatest musical legends of the 21st century. One such singer that was featured in the film, Judith Hill, is about to cash in big time.
Hill has supported such artists as the late Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder and Elton John and recently sang backup for Ringo Starr at the Grammy Awards and the Beatles’ 50th anniversary celebration special. Now, as the spotlight has been shined on her own career, power moves are set to be made. Hill, who wrote her first song at the age of 4, is featured on four tracks on the “20 Feet from Stardom” soundtrack, including her original composition “Desperation,” which she performed on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.”
“Desperation” won the award for Outstanding Song at the Black Reel Awards. Hill, who was a contestant on season four of “The Voice,” is featured on Josh Groban’s new single “Remember When It Rained,” which was recorded live this past fall when Hill opened for Groban. These steps all lead to her debut album, which will be released this summer by the Cherry Party/Sony Music.
The Cherry Party is a newly formed record label, a joint venture with Sony Music. Good luck with that.
Over and out. Holla next week. Till then, enjoy the nightlife.