Angela Bassett’s performance of Tina Turner’s iconic “Proud Mary” in the biopic, “What’s Love Got to Do With It?”(1993) is a tour de force tribute to my favorite “girls rock” musical numbers from films with dynamic female leads.
James Brown may have been the hardest working man in show business, but he wasn’t being physically abused every day by his spouse. Unlike Tina Turner, the hardest working woman in show business who simultaneously raised a family while delivering show stopping, gut wrenching vocals that, at that time, girls weren’t suppose to be able to deliver.
Quoting my favorite critic – the late Roger Ebert’s review from 1993 – “…ranks as one of the most harrowing, uncompromising showbiz biographies I’ve ever seen.”
Bassett kills it with her living, breathing and – Whoa, check out those guns – transformation paying homage to the Queen of Rock – Tina Turner!
This is Angela Bassett’s hard work paying off; seamlessly blending Tina’s vocals with a powerful performance of her hard rockin’ hit – “Proud Mary”.
Tina Turner’s (Anna Mae Bullock) life is a testament to her resilience. I’ve been fortunate enough to see her live and believe me she is truly a force of energy “leaving it all on the stage” with every performance. “Proud Mary” (written in 1969 by singer/songwriter John Fogerty and recorded by his band Credence Clearwater Revival) is one of her most recognizable signature songs.
Tina’s interpretation is worlds away from the original southern rock version. With a completely different arrangement, it opens with Tina teasing that sometimes the audience might like to hear them do a song “nice and easy” but “we never, ever do nothing nice and easy” we always do it “nice and rough”. She further sets up the number by enticing the crowd with they’re going to do the first part “nice” but they’re going to do the finish “rough”.
The song reached #4 on the pop charts on March 27, 1971 and won the Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Group in 1972.
Tina lived a life of poverty growing up in Nutbush, TN in the 1940’s, but found solace in the spirit and freeing experience of music and singing in the choir of her Southern Baptist church. She began her musical career in St. Louis in the 1950’s singing in Ike Turner’s Kings of Rhythm band.
Ike Turner (her husband) ended up trying to destroy not only her passion but her life. With hate in his heart and jealousy of her talent, he systematically physically and mentally abused her for years. However, through her strength of will and perseverance, she fought back, sued for divorce, and walked out the courtroom in 1978 (in spite of what Ike tried to prevent) with her dignity and above all – Her Name!
I love Tina Turner and smile because this routine has been performed more than once in the living rooms, basements, wherever by a generation of “rock girls” (myself included). Tearing it up, whipping our hair back and forth and just knowing we are too doggone hot!
This performance of “Proud Mary”(1971) showcases the dynamic energy and incredible legs of the one, the only, the incomparable – Miss Tina Turner!