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.