Her Voice

Black Women from the Spotlight to the Screen

May - June 2021

We invite you to revel in the artistry of these amazing Black women performers.

Introduction

  • Amazing Grace

    Amazing Grace

    Immerse yourself in the celestial power of Aretha Franklin’s voice in this fine documentary.

  • Siren of the Tropics

    Siren of the Tropics

    Josephine Baker’s performance shines through the screen in this rags-to-riches tale.

  • Stormy Weather

    Stormy Weather

    Don’t miss this classy, musical delight featuring many A-list Black entertainers.

  • Whitney: Can I Be Me

    Whitney: Can I Be Me

    Nick Broomfield and Rudi Dolezal document the tragic rise and fall of a musical legend.

  • Dreamgirls

    Dreamgirls

    Jennifer Hudson steals the show in this 2006 musical-drama inspired by The Supremes.

  • Ella Fitzgerald: Just One of Those Things

    Ella Fitzgerald: Just One of Those Things

    Uncover the story behind this truly unique jazz vocalist.

  • Sparkle

    Sparkle

    Whitney Houston’s last screen performance sees her as a mother to three talented divas-in-the-making.

  • What’s Love Got to Do With It

    What’s Love Got to Do With It

    Angela Bassett and Laurence Fishburne star as Tina and Ike Turner in this stellar biopic.

  • The Wiz

    The Wiz

    Diana Ross plays Dorothy in this fun interpretation of the Wizard of Oz tale.

  • Twenty Feet from Stardom

    Twenty Feet from Stardom

    This Oscar®-winning doc reveals the highs and lows of life as a backing singer.

  • ...But Then, She’s Betty Carter

    ...But Then, She’s Betty Carter

    A sensitive documentary portrait about the genius vocal talent that is Betty Carter.

  • Mavis!

    Mavis!

    Discover the amazing story behind music legend and civil rights icon Mavis Staples (The Staple Singers).

  • Billie

    Billie

    With never-before-heard taped interviews with music legends and those who knew Billie Holiday best, this documentary is a fascinating treat.

Introduction

‘Being the Queen is not all about singing, and being a diva is not all about singing. It has much to do with your service to people’
Aretha Franklin

The voice is the first and most versatile instrument. In this season we witness those known for their vocal performances adapting their talents to a different medium, or we see them depicted in illuminating documentary portraits. Across the years from Stormy Weather to 20 Feet from Stardom there’s an invisible bond of recognition and sisterhood that links the rich legacy of those who went before to those who followed. Lena Horne spoke for all of these ‘divas’ when she commented on the personal and emotional cost of a black woman artist aiming for success. The artists in this season refused to let anything hold them back, overcoming personal setbacks and systemic barriers to express their vulnerability and joy through song. As performers they used their talent not only to entertain and comment, but also to enrich and transform the entertainment industry and those around them.

Karen Alexander, season programmer

Want more?
Watch the Her Voice: Black Women from the Spotlight to the Screen discussion
See also the special collections display in the BFI Reuben Library.

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