Chaka Khan

  1. Margaret Avery, The Colour Purple, 1985.    It was inevitable that Steven Spielberg would go to Tina Turner with the script. There was a perfect part for her – jazz singer Shug Avery, described by Chicago critic Roger Ebert as  a pathetic, alcoholic juke-joint singer… who has been ravaged by life yet still has an indestructible beauty.”  She becomes “the prime mover in Celie’s eventual triumph.” Even though Shug’s lesbianism with Whoopie’s Celie is toned dpwn from Alice Walker’s novel (which Spielberg later regretted doing), Tina passed on the role. So did five other top chanteueses: Lola Falana (First Lady of Las Vegas), Phyllis Hyman (The Sophisticated Lady), Chaka Khan (The Queen of Funk), Patti LaBelle (Godmother of Soul) and Diana Ross (from The Supremes).  They knew the book, they knew  the sex scenes and were not sure they wanted to go there… As for the violence,  Tina, for one, had suffered far too much of that in her own life; enough was enough. . “Her story was too close to my own.”  

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