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.
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