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January 2008

Beyonce to play Etta James in Muddy Waters film

by Wilson Morales

January 25, 2008

While speaking to Cedric the Entertainer on his latest film, 'Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins', he mentioned to blackfilm.com that Beyonce has been cast to play famed singer Etta James on his next film, 'Cadillac Records'.

The story is about Leonard Chess, the legendary founder of the South Side Chicago blues label Chess Records. The period piece follows the rise and fall of Chess Records, which launched the careers of such R&B greats as Muddy Waters, Etta James and Chuck Berry. Chess, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, scoured the South, checking out the various blues scenes and selling records from the back of his Cadillac. Cedric the Entertainer will play Willie Dixon, who wrote most of the hits records and was part of the famous company. One of his most famous songs was "Hoochie Coochie Man".

Oscar winner Adrien Brody has also joined the cast to replace Matt Dillon as Leonard Chess, the founder of Chess Records. Dillon had to drop out of the project due to a scheduling conflict.

As previously reported, Jeffrey Wright will portray Muddy Waters in the film set in 1950s Chicago. Also new to the cast are Emmanuelle Chriqui, Columbus Short and Tammy Blanchard.

Darnell Martin ("Their Eyes Were Watching God") penned the script and is directing. Sony/BMG's Sofia Sondervan and Andrew Lack are producing.

According to allmusicguide.com, James landed at Chicago's Chess Records in 1960, signing with their Argo subsidiary. Immediately, her recording career kicked into high gear; not only did a pair of duets with her then-boyfriend (Moonglows lead singer Harvey Fuqua) chart, her own sides (beginning with the tortured ballad "All I Could Do Was Cry") chased each other up the R&B lists as well. Leonard Chess viewed James as a classy ballad singer with pop crossover potential, backing her with lush violin orchestrations for 1961's luscious "At Last" and "Trust in Me." But James' rougher side wasn't forsaken -- the gospel-charged "Something's Got a Hold on Me" in 1962, a kinetic 1963 live LP (Etta James Rocks the House) cut at Nashville's New Era Club, and a blues-soaked 1966 duet with childhood pal Sugar Pie De Santo, "In the Basement," ensured that.




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