Movies that focus on the life and career of singers are called biopics. Finding a good biopic can be a bit of a challenge depending on the director, cast, and crew. A great biopic can breathe new life into the stories of musicians we all know and love. It can also bring new recognition to the artist, style, or contributions of the industry. If you are a fan of Black history and/or music, then a movie about Black musicians or singers may be just what you need for your next movie night.
7 Movies About Black Singers You Should Watch
Take a look at our list of 7 movies about Black singers that are definitely worth a watch.
1. Why Do Fools Fall In Love
Frankie Lymon had a short career in music, but his mark on the industry was profound. Why Do Fools Fall In Love is a movie that puts a spotlight back on Lymon, often called a “forgotten teen idol.” The movie chronicles Lymon’s three marriages, financial troubles, and addictions – each of which would influence his music and career. At a young age, Lymon sang in a doo-wop group. In 1956, the single ‘Why Do Fools Fall In Love’ would become the group’s biggest hit. Sadly, just as his career was starting to take off, Lymon fell victim to his addiction. At just 25 years old, he died from a heroin overdose.
2. Lady Sings The Blues
Lady Sings The Blues is an Oscar-nominated film that follows the life of Billie Holiday – a legendary jazz singer. Holiday had humble beginnings and faced many challenging circumstances on her road to fame. The movie provides a glimpse into these challenges, including her relationships with men, her rise to fame, and the music that made her iconic.
Huddie “Lead Belly” Ledbetter was a pioneer of folk music. His upbringing was wrought with challenges as a young Black man in Jim Crow South. The movie, Leadbelly, follows the life and career of Ledbetter, including his voice in civil rights matters, his rise to musical fame, and the relationships that shaped him along the way.
4. What’s Love Got to Do With It
This movie tells the story of singing great Tina Turner and her rise to fame, the struggles of her life, and her musical comeback in the 1980s. Starring Angela Bassett and Laurence Fishburne, this movie is one that will move you. Throughout her life, Turner faced incredible adversity, but she overcame it and became one of music’s greatest entertainers.
5. Get On Up
Get On Up is the story of music legend, Godfather of Soul, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, James Brown. Brown is one of the most beloved singers to ever produce music. He was energetic, had a sound like no other, and was not afraid to dance and entertain. But Brown’s life was not always easy. As you will see in this movie, Brown had humble beginnings and faced personal issues involving his family, trauma, and drug addiction. With Chadwick Boseman playing Brown, the movie is full of energy and is a definite must-see.
Ray follows the life of music legend Ray Charles. Starring Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles, this movie is one that will surprise many viewers. From the story of how Charles went blind as a child, his struggles with addiction, and his relationship with the women in his life, Ray tells it all in a provocative way. The music of Charles is thoughtfully brought to life through Foxx, who would win numerous awards for his role.
7. Straight Outta Compton
Straight Outta Compton is a movie that explores the lives and careers of the members of the rap group NWA. While the group had a short musical career, the members individually have quite incredible stories and careers of their own. Prominent members of NWA include Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, and Eazy-E. Not only does Straight Outta Compton follow the musicians, but it also paints a picture of what life was like in racially charged Los Angeles during the 1980s.
We all know there is more to the story than what we see on album covers or in media interviews. And with the 7 movies about Black singers that we list above, you will learn so much about the musicians and singers that you know and love, but maybe didn’t know all the details.