Saturday at his annual pre-Grammy party, longtime record industry executive and producer Clive Davis dropped some exclusive information about the upcoming Aretha Franklin biopic.
“Davis tonight introduced Oscar and Grammy winner Jennifer Hudson to sing a couple songs, and then told the audience that Hudson will be playing Aretha Franklin in an upcoming biopic about the life of the Queen of Soul,” Mike Fleming Jr. wrote in a Deadline report. “Hudson was in fact hand picked by Franklin to play the role.”
Aside from Hudson being one of the few singer/actresses with a wide enough vocal range to pull off the role, Davis is one of the common denominators here. Davis is credited as a producer or executive producer on Hudson’s 2008 self-titled debut album, 2011’s I Remember Me, and 2014’s JHUD. Davis and Franklin have remained close, with Davis working on many of Franklin’s projects after she left Atlantic Records.
“The first time I met her [was when] she called after I had founded Arista, so we're talking late 1970s,” Davis told Billboard during a 2016 interview. “She was at the end of her career at Atlantic. She was working with producers who didn't quite have the right handle on the material. I went to her house in Los Angeles, and she cooked dinner for me. We spent the evening getting to know each other and establishing the bond that we have.”
Harvey Mason Jr., who has production credits on both Franklin’s “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” and Hudson’s “I Still Love You,” will reportedly serve as one of the film’s co-producers. Mason also worked with Hudson on the movie Dreamgirls, which earned her an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
You can read the full report on Queen of Soul via Deadline.