"The Fighting Temptations" Presents Gospel Message
- Thursday, September 18, 2003
"It seems I’m always falling short of being worthy. But He still loves me." That’s an amazing lyric to be heard in a comic movie produced by MTV Films and Paramount Studios. What’s more, those dynamic words are being sung by Destiny’s Child lead singer Beyoncé. The song is sung in a church, backed by members of a gospel choir, in pure dedication to our Lord and Savior. “Did you say Paramount Studios? MTV?? Beyoncé???” Yep.
Movie-going audiences are in for an unexpected treat this September 19 when the new comedy "The Fighting Temptations" hits movie screens. The previous lyric is in the moving "He Still Loves Me," sung by Beyoncé and Walter Williams, Sr. (of the O'Jays). And it’s only one of several gospel offerings supplied by the likes of Shirley Caesar, Ann Nesby, Faith Evans, Melba Moore and Christian rap artist T-Bone.
Audiences who follow Destiny’s Child or hip hop artists such as P.Diddy and Faith Evens, may also be astonished to hear songs proclaiming "Jesus, he loves you so" and "I’m getting ready to meet the Lord."
Paramount Studios and MTV Films are releasing this musical comedy about a New York yuppie who returns to his childhood home in rural Georgia where he expects to inherit a sizeable financial endowment. The catch? In order to collect the cash, he has to take over his aunt's dismal church gospel choir. And although he has no musical ability himself, he struggles to unify the members of the small black Baptist choir and lead them to success in an upcoming gospel competition.
The film stars Cuba Gooding, Jr. ("Jerry Maguire") and Beyoncé ("Austin Powers in Goldmember"). Neither of these stars, nor most of the supporting cast, which includes the usually bombastic Mike Epps, is often associated with Gospel messages. But both the film and those that participated in its production are surprising.
“I grew up in church. But when I was 12 years old we started going to a another church where I experienced the power of gospel music,” says hot singing sensation Beyoncé Knowles. “I joined that choir for two years and this film was like going back there. There’s so much power in gospel music. These songs are full of rejoicing and happiness. They lift your spirit,” she continues, her face beaming.
The film’s producer, Loretha Jones, also grew up in church. She began her entertainment career first through her legal background, then moving into co-producing projects such as the Spike Lee-directed "School Daze." Soon her interests led her into producing other films including "The Five Heartbeats", "Meteor Man" and the television series "The Parenthood."
“My grandmother was sort of the music teacher at our church. I grew up listening to the likes of Shirley Caesar,” says Ms. Jones. “Our film begins in the 1980s. At that time, gospel was much more traditional. And Shirley Caesar sort of epitomizes that traditional sound. I just had to have her start the movie off.”
Jones continues, “As gospel has evolved over the past twenty years, it was important to try to find a way to evolve the music along with the choir. So with hip-hop artists and Beyoncé involved, you have a more contemporary feel.
“If you have any sort of message in your film, which we do, you can get it across better if you’re not hitting them over the head with it. I felt if I didn’t incorporate some contemporary rhythms, beats and sounds into the gospel, it wouldn’t feel authentic to members of the audience who follow Beyoncé or Angie Stone, or hip hop.”
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