From Spike Lee movies to the stage, the composer’s opera pays homage to black culture

Terence Blanchard’s Fire Shut Up in my Bones’ is coming to Chicago’s Lyric Opera

CHICAGO – The thrill of creating and directing a history-creating hit opera is not lost on Terence Blanchard.

Hans is the first opera by a black composer to be performed by the New York Met. And only the other from a black composer in Chicago on stage at Lyric.

“I do not know how I got here. I do not know how all this happened. It’s pretty wild, but it’s pretty cool,” he said. “It’s still surreal. I’ve been to Chicago as a jazz musician. I used to play at Blackstone and play Jazz Fest out in the park many times. But coming to Lyrikken is something special. ”

While some may not know the name of this six-time Grammy winner, they certainly know his work. Blanchard is the man behind the music that draws you into some of your favorite movies, and he’s Spike Lee’s “go to guy.” It’s a partnership that started in a Chicago movie theater.

“I came to see ‘She’s Got To Have It’ in Chicago,” Blanchard said. “And I remember walking out of the theater thinking, ‘Man, that would be nice for me to work with someone like that.’ … And the next thing you know, I ended up working with him. . “

From “Do The Right Thing” to “Mo Betta Blues” to “Malcolm X,” during their 30-year partnership, Blanchard has scored 17 of Lee’s films and earned an Oscar nomination.

“If I had not become a film composer first, I do not think I would have been able to do this,” Blanchard said. “What the film has done has made me understand that history is the most important thing.”

His opera is the story of “Fire Shut Up in my Bones”, adapted from the best-selling autobiography by acclaimed author Charles Blow. The production is rooted in and a celebration of black culture. It also speaks to the universal triumphs of life.

“It’s about coming of age. It’s about perseverance, and it’s about strength, ”he said. “One of the reasons I wanted to make this story is because Charles is still with us and he’s extremely successful. And he’s brilliant. And I think it’s inspiring for a lot of people to know him. , where he is now, and to see what he has been through. ”

Blanchard’s own story is also inspiring.

“It’s like a Cinderella story in a weird way, you know what I mean? Because I could never foresee any of this,” he said.

Now the man who was teased as a child for wearing a trumpet Saturday morning instead of a ball will want others to know things have a way of working.

“And what I always try to say to young people is, ‘Man, if I did this, anyone could do this,'” he said. “I’m no different from anyone else. I have the same fear when I grow up of what my future would be. I had the same reservations about – Should I do this? I had the same concern about – Is there anyone who listens to what I do? You know, all those things matter and sometimes I tell people I was just too ignorant to know better. I knew I just loved music and I “It’s fun playing music. And as a result, it’s grown into this thing. So if you follow your passion and follow your heart, you never know what level of success you can achieve.”

Get Dean’s reviews and A-List interviews delivered directly to your inbox. Sign up for Dean’s Downloads weekly newsletter. You also get his Dean Cooks recipes!

For the past three decades, Terence Blanchard has worked with Spike Lee to fill his award-winning film with music. He has 17 “Spike Lee Joints” in his honor. We talked to him about a couple of his favorites.

Leave a Comment