Terrance McKnight Interviews Ntozake Shange and M. Nahadr about 'For Colored Girls'

Friday, November 19, 2010

Tyler Perry’s movie For Colored Girls came in third at the box office last weekend and grossed $20.1 million during its premiere. But not all of Perry's fans know that his blockbuster is based on Ntozake Shange’s Tony-Award winning choreo-poem, "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow Is Enuf," which made its celebrated stage debut 35 years ago. Perry’s adaptation for the big screen, chock full of big stars like Janet Jackson and Phylicia Rashād, attempts to carry on the theatrical piece’s message about the black female experience in America.

Those familiar with Shange's 1975 choreo-poem may recognize parts of it woven in and out of the film, or feel it in the music of New York-based vocalist M. Nahadr (who calls herself simply "M"). M wrote the uplifting anthem for Perry's film, “I Found God in Myself,” at Shange's behest. The song, M says, was inspired by Shange’s poem “A Laying on of Hands.”

Although Shange, 62, has suffered a series of strokes, she and M. continue to work together in New York City. This month, the two performed a series of spoken word and improvised music performances together at the Nuyorican Poets Café. WQXR Music Host Terrance McKnight spoke with Shange and Nahadr about their recent collaboration and whether For Colored Girls is still relevant for the modern African-American woman. To listen, click the arrow above.

Let us know what you thnk about the choreo-poem and movie by posting a comment here.


M. Nahadr and Ntozake Shange

Hosted by:

Terrance McKnight

Produced by:

Perry Santanachote


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Comments [5]

April L from Dunseith N.D.

I was moved by this movie, it triggered old memories. I knew there was other women in the world who lived my life and struggled through those situations also. I'm Native American/French, and also a colored girl. I too have had enough in the rainbow but has over come. Thank you for your voice.

Jan. 28 2011 11:23 AM
simona from lubbock,tx

I had never read the poetry but i was able to see the movie i found it to be very helpfull and very uplifting to us young black women who think that their alone in the struggles of everyday life. I was in tears with the message that was provided and wish that more women could read the poetry or see the movie to know that they aren't alone. Stand up women and rise, rise above the negative and teach or younger ones they are not alone.

Dec. 31 2010 11:18 AM
Nancy Park Johnson from Novato, Ca.94949

I had the good fortune to hear Tsake Shange's poetry read by her at City Lights bookstore in San Francisco several years ago. I also showed her a poem of mine-Blood Moon" which she honered me by asking for a copy of it. She graciously signed my original. At the end of her reading it was asked if anyone could give Tsake Shange a ride home to which
I voluteered.
I am sorry to hear about her strokes and I hope she rebounds thoroughly. I would be interested to communicate with her if I might,please. My E-mail is for initial communication, but I'd rather write her letters. Thank you Nancy Park Johnson.

Dec. 04 2010 02:53 PM

I was born in the seventies, but I happened to read Ntozake Shanges piece "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf" when I was in High School. I remember reading it several times; in the morning and quite a few times at night. I had to not only read it, but analyze it, think about it, critically view it, and down right live with it to truly understand the words. Although, I was not a woman yet, her poetry made me cry because I could truly relate to every woman she wrote about and I could even forsee the woman I would turn out to be in her verses. I was thoroughly shocked and pleased the way Tyler Perry delicately wove this story into the big screen. I was initially hesitant of his interpretation because I feel like some of his other work is so "surface," or more so generalized views of the African American culture and Ntozake is so "deep." But, I have to admit, even as a synical viewer I was impressed and even took all the women in my family to see it.

Nov. 30 2010 10:47 PM
Shadeed Ahmad from New York, New York

The dynamic trio of M. Nahadr, Ntozake Shange and Terrance McKnight provided a delightful and especially insightful overview of the impact and relevance to humanity of the monumental play, "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow Is Enuf," both in the past and present.

I had an exquisite joy in hearing Ntozake Shange and M. Nahadr elucidate about how they became a literary and musical team. I found their serendipitous introductory encounter with one another to be a story sweeter than honey for fans and them personally because of its having the roll over affect of globally providing extremely consciousness raising art.

This conversation between these three luminaries has left me with an afterglow of feeling blessed to have experienced it.

Incomparable radio intimacy of the intellectual, profoundly artistic and enlightening kind has again graced the airwaves of WNYC.

Nov. 20 2010 11:23 AM

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