Sunday, January 14, 2007

JENNIFER BYNUM . . . THE OSM'S SUNDAY BEST . . .

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.

In any case, if you'd like to learn more about the remarkable JENNIFER BYNUM and/or listen to her music, I'd encourage you to start here Jennifer Bynum or here.

If and when you do, don't forget to be on your Old School Mix EVERDAY BEST and show MS. BYNUM some love (smile).

7 comments:

SharonJ. said...

Ms. Bynum has a beautiful voice. She reminds me of Janice Alexander at East View. I agree that would have been a better choice for an Oscar than "It's hard out hear on a pimp." But in the song's defense, I understand the lyrics are more positive than the title indicates. Apparently the song is about a man trying to leave the pimping world.

Lori said...

Well Sharon J.,
This will be one of the few times we'll have to agree to disagree (smile).

If you haven't done so already, please, by all means, go and check out the lyrics to "It's Hard Out Here On a Pimp" for yourself. I saw the movie (more on that later) and while it is "purportedly" about a pimp who wants out of the hustle, thats not at all what one can readily deduce from the words of the song.

And I'm fairly sure, that's not at all what most young folks think about when they hear that song.

In any case, I've already established my lack of love for our community's on-going fascination/glorification with/of pimps and other types of hustlers. Sorry, I cuts them no slack, not now, not never! (bad grammar, and double negatives fully intended) Smile. Lori D.

Julie Rodriguez Jones said...

I just wanted to say thanks for the wonderful review of Jennifer Bynum. I applaud everything you said in your article. Jennifer is one of the most amazing singers of our time and I hope more recognize this. To see her scene in the movie go to: http://www.artsoul.homestead.com/JenniferBynumInternationalSoloistInformation.html and just click the paragraph under the Oscar statue.

Lori said...

Julie R. J.,
Thanks for the additional info. Yes, Jennifer is an amazing talent. I too can only hope that one day soon she is blessed with the 'props' she so deserves . . .

Anonymous said...

I also with the previous posts. In addition, I was extremely disappointed to find out that her rendition of Change Muh Name was not on the soundtrack album.

It is indeed amazing how certain individuals have gifts that when displayed brings one to tears. Ms. Bynum's voice does just that.

Lori said...

Anonymous,
Thanks for the feedback. I'm sure Jennifer appreciates the love.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much, i have had such trouble finding who sang the song in the movie and what the song's name is, Thank you