By Darlene Donloe
HOLLYWOOD — In 2014, Reginald Hudlin, Marcus Miller, and Craig Robinson joined forces to present Black Movie Soundtrack at the legendary Hollywood Bowl.
The unique, well-received event paid homage to the history of music in Black films by pairing live performances from some of the industry’s hottest acts with movie clips projected on a large screen.
It was so successful, that screenwriter and director Hudlin (curator) Miller (Grammy-winning bassist and the show’s musical director), and Robinson (host) came together for encore shows in 2016 and 2019.
COVID darkened the bowl in 2020 and 2021, but this year the show is back at the Bowl, and 8 p.m. Aug. 24, with Thomas Wilkins, principal conductor of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra joining Hudlin, Miller, and Robinson, who are all reprising their roles.
“The Black Movie Soundtrack evening has consistently been an extravaganza and this year’s event will not disappoint,” Miller said. “We always have a combination of songs from classic Black films and more recent films.”
Miller said this year’s event will celebrate music from the 1970s blaxploitation films.
“Folks would be mad if we didn’t,” he said. “But the tradition is to have different musical stars putting their personal spin on these classic jams so the performances are always special and unique.”
Miller said, “this year we’ll be doing a segment celebrating Black superheroes like Black Panther and Miles Morales (Spider-Man).
“And I’m really excited about the tribute we have planned for Sidney Poitier — one of the most significant figures in Black movie history,” he said. “As usual, we’ll have fantastic special guest artists performing the music from these films. This year’s lineup includes Babyface, Warren G., Jennifer Holliday, Bebe Winans, Eric Benet, Lalah Hathaway, Warren G, and Kid ‘n Play, just to name a few.”
Some of the acts featured in previous years include Charlie Wilson singing the “Theme From Shaft,” Gladys Knight singing songs from the “Claudine” soundtrack, Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds singing “Give You My Heart,” Lalah Hathaway doing “Love Shoulda Brought You Home” from Boomerang, Full Force doing “Ain’t My Type of Hype” from Hudlin’s movie “House Party,” and Public Enemy and En Vogue performing music from films including “Sparkle,” “In the Heat of the Night” and “Do the Right Thing” and more.
Miller said through Black Movie Soundtrack IV, “the tradition of celebrating the incredibly rich history of music in Black films continues.”
Robinson, who is, once again, hosting the show, agrees. His excitement for the upcoming event is palpable.
“I can’t wait,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to it. So, for my part, after Reggie has an Oscar writer do a bio on the acts, I take it and transform it into comedy. It’s a collaborative process. It’s a creative time. The show is always amazing.”
Robinson once called Black Movie Soundtrack, “a hug with a soul.”
“I stand on that,” said Robinson, best known for his roles in “The Office,” “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” “Hot Tub Time Machine,” “Get On Up,” “The Bad Guys,” and, most recently, the Gain detergent and Pizza Hut commercials. “I stand on that without a doubt. People who have been there before know exactly what I’m talking about. People keep coming back, which makes it special.”
Robinson said with Hudlin and Miller at the helm, he “just knew this show was special.”
“In the beginning, I hoped it would catch on,” said Robinson, who considers it “an honor and a blessing” to be the host. “I didn’t know if it would go past one night at the Bowl. But it did. That’s because the show is spectacular. It’s a magical night. You have the artists and you have The Bowl orchestra.”
This year’s show will be the first one for Wilkins, who has helmed the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra since 2009.
“This is the fourth one, but it will be my first,” said Wilkins. “What I love about this is the producer said we’re covering a lot of things. No one person is there to suck up all the oxygen. Reggie said it’s a celebration of the evolution of Black people. I’m looking forward to it.”
“This feels like, you know how after church everyone is all huggy, it’s like that,” Robinson said. “We all get it. I can’t overstate it or overhype it. The love that goes into it and Reggie’s vision and the music and the visuals and the performances. It’s going to grab your heart. There are cry-worthy moments. Run, don’t walk. If you know, you know.”
Darlene Donloe is a freelance reporter for Wave Newspapers who covers South Los Angeles. She can be reached at email@example.com.