Fantasia Will Lip-Sync Mahalia Jackson's Songs in Biopic

Share on Tumblr
Submit to redditShare via email

This is something I didn’t expect. According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Fantasia Barrino will star as Mahalia Jackson in the upcoming biopic Mahalia! but she won’t be singing.

Instead of lending her own vocals to the project, Fantasia will lip-sync to recordings by the famed gospel singer.

Producer Dave LaCour Simien, whose Los Angeles-based Double Dutch Productions is behind “Mahalia!,” said the production has acquired the rights to 18 of Jackson’s songs for the film — all of which have been remastered — and that Barrino will be lip-synching to those original recordings.

It’s not a knock on Barrino’s voice. Rather, it’s an effort to make the film as true-to-life as possible, Simien said.

“I really wanted to be authentic,” he said. “We wanted to make sure if we do it, we do it right.”

“We envision this film as a black woman’s ‘Coal Miner’s Daughter,’ a colorful rags-to-riches story of a great talent who achieves enormous success and survives personal tragedy,” the film’s producers say in a synopsis on their “Mahalia!” web page.

Shooting is set to begin in April in Chicago and Pittsburgh.

Tagged with:
 
  • Tess

    So is there a major studio lending support to this project or is it an independently funded affair? Is is intended for major release, independent release, or made for TV? Anyone with any info?

    And since I’m not familiar with Mahalia…did she have the same kiddy helium balloon voice that Fanny has?

    Lots of questions.

  • Marie Ruffin

    Tess, I think you can find the answer to that at imdb.com
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1838728/
    I’m curious to know too. It seems to be “low-budget”. There is no “cast” listed and it’s filming in Chicago, IL — this is news to me since I live here and haven’t seen squat about it filming.
    As for Mahalia’s voice, it was illustrious. A simple gospel singer. See this clip:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TzsXsK5S5Fc

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VX20gRU9DzE&feature=related
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IS5POSrFiNA&feature=related

    Fantasia would be the last singer I could see playing Mahalia. I would think someone like Yolanda Adams.
    Anyway, we shall see what happens in the future.

  • Holden

    If Fantasia is not going to sing, why cast her in the role? Wouldn’t it make more sense to cast a powerful actress? Mahalia Jackson will be a tough role to play.

  • songsungblue

    Fantasia IS a powerful actress. Did you see her reviews in a Color Purple? The toughest NY critics were squeeing over her. I grew up reading theater reviews, and I’ve never seen anything like that.

  • Holden

    Fantasia IS a powerful actress. Did you see her reviews in a Color Purple? The toughest NY critics were squeeing over her. I grew up reading theater reviews, and I’ve never seen anything like that.

    That’s cool. I knew she was in the play, but I didn’t hear how it was received. I’m not into her style of music, but good for her.

  • larc

    Holden:
    If Fantasia is not going to sing, why cast her in the role? Wouldn’t it make more sense to cast a powerful actress?

    Or somebody who looks at least remotely like Mahalia Jackson. Fanty looks nothing like her. When Sissy Spacek played the part of Loretta Lynn in Coal Miner’s Daughter, she had the look, sound and mannerisms down pat. Not to mention she did her own singing instead of lip-syncing.

  • rayni

    I think Queen Latifah should play Mahalia if they’re going the lip-syncing route. Or even if they’re not.

  • Niall

    I think her manager tried to make it seem like a bigger project but it appears to be a small budget made-for-tv flick.

    Fantasia shrieked and cried her way through her biopic and “The Color Purple,” and the critics lapped it up. She’ll do it again and get the same reaction. Chewing the scenery and lots of crying seems to be in her wheelhouse.

  • songsungblue

    My friend who HATED Fantasia during AI was dragged by her mother to Color Purple. She was prepared to hate her in Color Purple, but she was sobbing at the end of it. She said it was like an out of body experience! I appreciate the fact that you don’t care for her, but it’s impossible to negate the power of her performances on hard-boiled critics and theater goers. She’s an amazing talent.

  • hapi

    Jamie Fox lip synch’d in Ray, a great movie. Even though he definitely can sing so much like Ray Charles. I think there was “one” song he actually sang himself in it. It’s not unusual.

  • Nina1

    If Fantasia is not going to sing, why cast her in the role?

    I thought the same thing. Fantasia’s voice is very different from Mahalia Jackson’s, so the singing thing sort of makes sense (although some Gospel belter might do a credible job of it).

  • abbysee

    I was wondering about the voice. I loved Mahalia’s voice, but it’s a totally different vibe from even Fantasia’s gospel singing. So as long as it’s done well, the lip syncing won’t bother me. I bet however they come up with a way for Fantasia to record something in conjunction with this movie.

    I love Yolanda Adams, but does she act? I saw Fantasia in The Color Purple after having absolutely hated her biopic, and was blown away. It was also the first play that my significant other remained awake for the entire show!

  • steph6449

    I love Yolanda Adams, but does she act? I saw Fantasia in The Color Purple after having absolutely hated her biopic, and was blown away. It was also the first play that my significant other remained awake for the entire show!

    I love Yolanda, too. Have a bunch of her CDs.

    She was in that “Gospel” movie a couple of years ago, featuring her song Victory.

  • http://mjsbigblog.com/luvadamlamberts-american-idol-tour-2009-washington-dc-re-cap.htm luvadamlambert

    thats pathethic…sorry

  • Little Boy Blue

    Fantasia’s rendition of SUMMERTIME was considered one of the best moments of American Idol History.

    if this song (which Mahalia did record) ever becomes part of the film, they should make it an exception for Fantasia.

    Listen to Mahalia’s version here :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xWznQxCPmfY

    Here’s Fantasia’s version ( which many ranked among one of the best of Idol ):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-WWtGpEqpV4&feature=related

  • abbysee

    Little Boy Blue, after revisiting Summertime and a few other Fantasia idol performances, I think that this is a mistake. She shouldn’t lip sync. I think doing so will call into legitimacy this movie. She doesn’t have to sound like Mahalia, nobody sounds like Mahalia. Not Yolanda Adams, not one of the Clark sisters, not Mary Mary (I know they are a duo), etc. So the vision should be honoring the spirit of the music and let Fantasia infuse some life into those songs. Frankly you are not gonna get alot of young butts in the seat if she is gonna just lip sync to Mahalia’s music. Oh well, they ain’t listening to me. LOL. I will go see it, just because Mahalia was a hero of my Great-grandmother so I grew up listening to this music.

  • Tess

    I just listened to both versions and now I need to go find some more Mahalia to listen to…what a voice, what emotion, what presentation. Fanny’s version doesn’t hold a candle to it.

  • songsungblue

    I love Mahalia, but I think Fantasia has an astounding talent as well – and I’m eager to see her in this movie.

  • readon

    Mahalia Jackson is a legendary gospel singer. She was respected as much for her character as well as her voice. My first thoughts in hearing that Fantasia was cast for the role is that many Mahalia fan’s might feel that casting Fantasia is disrespectful to her memory. However, this opinion is based solely on what I heard from older adults as I was growing up. I will have to look into Mahalia’s biography to understand why anyone would cast Fantasia in this role. Especially now, knowing that she is only lip-synching.

    This is a youtube of Mahalia singing in the classic movie “Imitation of Life”. This funeral scene with that voice allways reduces me to tears.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8eiI52WluF0

  • abbysee

    She was respected as much for her character as well as her voice. My first thoughts in hearing that Fantasia was cast for the role is that many Mahalia fan’s might feel that casting Fantasia is disrespectful to her memory.

    Well from the older Mahalia fans in my family they think it’s a wonderful idea that finally Mahalia will come to the big screen. It’s been far too long, in their opinion. Now Mahalia was not stranger to controversy. She alienated a big section of her fanbase by singing ‘secular’ songs, such as Summertime! They thought she was turning her back on the church, that she wasn’t a good Christian, etc, etc. So will I am sure you mean that Fantasia’s private life would be an affront to Mahalia fans, maybe not a parallel but also not a hindrance either.

    Tess, I would never try to elevate Fantasia over Mahalia, but if this is going to be a mainstream movie, then I am not sure that many of Fantasia’s young fans will be flocking to youtube the way you are. Some of these songs sound really dated. I think they could maintain the integrity of the film and the songs if they used Fantasia’s voice.

  • hapi

    Part of Mahalia’s appeal was “watching” her sing…she could communicate! I believe Fantasia can do this with greatness, lip sync or singing.

  • readon

    So will I am sure you mean that Fantasia’s private life would be an affront to Mahalia fans, maybe not a parallel but also not a hindrance either.

    Her private life was what I was concerned about. I wondered if there would be a backlash about that. However, I would agree that if she is a great actress and pulls it off, it will not be a hindrance. I am rooting for her. This type of role would definitely boost her career to a totally different level.

  • 123abc456

    Well Jessica Lange did not sing in the story of Patsy Cline because Patsy’s voice was so distinctive it was not a dig. The producers of the movie wanted Patsy’s voice in the movie. Sounds like that is what they want for this movie.

  • druzilla

    if this song (which Mahalia did record) ever becomes part of the film, they should make it an exception for Fantasia.

    Please. That’s one of the most overrated Idol performances ever. Fantasia’s version is nowhere near Mahalia’s. Now that we don’t have to hear her squeak gospel, can we just get rid of her from this role entirely? That baby-killing, home-wrecking mess has no class and no business in playing the part.

  • songsungblue

    I think that’s the greatest performance I’ve ever seen on Idol. JMHO, of course.

    Also – she wrecked no homes. She believed he was separated when they met, and this held up in court.

    If you’re going to do a moral litmus test for actors or musicians, you wouldn’t end up with a lot of films/radio/TV. Fantasia has done nothing that nearly every celebrity on the planet hasn’t done – including Alicia Keys, who got pregnant by her married boyfriend and ‘stole’ him from his wife.

    Finally, if abortion offends you – I suggest you don’t get one. LOL!

  • musicality

    Her voice sounds just like Macy Gray. I can see why they are having her lip synch. A lot of people do that for movies. I don’t see a problem with it.