Does the name JENNIFER BYNUM sound familiar? For those of you who answered, "No," my response is, well, it should . . . particularly if you watched Hustle & Flow, the movie released in 2005 about the Memphis pimp who aspires to be a rapper. JENNIFER BYNUM appeared in one of the film's most pivotal and memorable scenes. She sang CHANGED MUH NAME (also known as "Change Muh Name") the spiritual that moved Terrence Howard's character, "DJay" to tears and set him out on the journey to change his life.
In a 2005 interview on the Oprah show, I heard Howard say that even after having viewed the movie a number of times, the church scene still makes him cry. To quote him, "The one scene where I didn't act was inside the church listening to the song. I asked Jesus if He'll change my name . . . To even think about it makes me well-up because it's such an honest place."
Indeed, JENNIFER'S music can have that kind of an effect and believe me, I should know. Before I moved from Memphis, I belonged to the same church, Parkway Gardens Presbyterian (now known as Parkway Gardens United Presbyterian Church) where JENNIFER, a classically trained soprano and accomplished pianist graced us with her talents most every Sunday.
While in Memphis over the Christmas holidays, I saw JENNIFER at church and told her how much I missed hearing her music on a regular basis. Upon my return to Charlotte, JENNIFER was kind enough to send me a sampling of her work, including CHANGED MUH NAME and PSALM 90, a song written by JENNIFER and (similar to T. Howard) one that typcially moves me to tears whenever I hear it performed live.
I do think it's both a sin and a shame (if not incredibly telling) that JENNIFER'S musical role in Hustle & Flow didn't thrust her into the same type of national spotlight that Three 6 Mafia's did. I know who I personally would have rather seen at the Oscars, the Grammy's or anywhere else representing the Best of Memphis . . .
Interestingly enough, the Negro Spiritual (CHANGED MUH NAME) which JENNIFER rearranged and at Terrence Howard's request, performed live during the movie's filming, doesn't even appear on the Hustle & Flow Soundtrack. But I suppose it might have been a tad out of place situated amongst songs with titles like Whoop That Trick, It's Hard Out Here For A Pimp, Murder Game, Booty Language . . . and worse.
If and when you do, don't forget to be on your Old School Mix EVERDAY BEST and show MS. BYNUM some love (smile).