A beloved soul singer and two movie stars are joining forces to tell the story of a gospel music icon.
Queen Latifah and Jamie Foxx are executive producing a film for the big screen called “Mahalia!” about the life of gospel legend Mahalia Jackson. Jill Scott will play the singer, and the movie is based on Darlene Donloe’s 1992 biography “Mahalia Jackson.”
Scott shared news of her participation in the film Wednesday, Aug. 12. on Instagram and said she was honored to be in it.
“So so so so very excited for this film,” wrote Scott. “Mahalia Jackson was powerful for more than her spiritual voice; THAT Queen Mother was determined. Every story about Mahalia Jackson is worth the watch. I feel stupendously honored. @queenlatifah & @iamjamiefoxx I’ve seen and love what you’ve done as Bessie Smith and Ray Charles. You believing in my talent and effort is tremendous!!! #Iknowwhatmyjobis 👊🏽.”
Jackson, who was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, became a global superstar long before gospel music was the mainstream draw that it is today. She was the first gospel artist to play Carnegie Hall and used her influence to help several political campaigns, including John F. Kennedy’s. She sang at Kennedy’s inaugural ball when he became president.
The late singer was also an avid supporter of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the entire civil rghts movement and sang at the March on Washington in 1963, where King gave his historic “I Have a Dream” speech.
She passed away from heart failure in 1972 in Evergreen Park, Illinois, at 60 years old. Aretha Franklin, whom Jackson mentored, sang at her funeral.
In a press statement that surfaced on Wednesday, Latifah said that she’s eager to get the story of Jackson on the silver screen and excited to connect with Holly Carter, who executive produced Lifetime’s wildly successful “The Clark Sisters” movie.
“This is such an incredibly important story to tell and we’re thrilled to work with Jamie on the project. Shakim and I are also looking forward to reteaming with our ‘Clark Sisters’ producing partner, Holly Carter, to share Mahalia’s inspiring journey to becoming the Queen of Gospel music,” said Latifah, mentioning her longtime business partner Shakim Compere.
It was announced earlier this month that another film on Jackson is in the works called “Robin Roberts Presents: The Mahalia Jackson Story.” That project, which is being produced by “Good Morning America” co-host Robin Roberts, will star “Orange Is the New Black” star Danielle Brooks as Jackson and will air on Lifetime.
One major difference between both films is that Latifah and Foxx’s version will have the gospel icon’s actual music in it, since they secured her entire musical catalog.
Viewers of the big-screen version will be treated to songs like “His Eyes Are on the Sparrow,” “Amazing Grace,” “Go Tell It On the Mountain,” and Jackson’s biggest hit, “Move on Up a Little Higher.”