I can’t help but feel a hint of anxiety when I see Jamie Foxx‘s name attached to new projects. His ambitions as an actual album-recording, money-receiving musician are generally laughable. I commend his pride, as he obviously takes himself quite seriously as an artist. No matter how much I pray, his vocal chords just won’t explode. Such is life, I suppose. However, on the big screen, I support most of what he does. He’s no Diddy or DMX, but the man is talented. He’s using his star power (and wallet) to bring the story of the Kashmere Stage Band to a new generation. Thunder Soul tells the story of what Count Basie once called “the best school band he’d ever heard.” What started as an average high school music ensemble at Kashmere High School in Houston, Texas was transformed into a nationally-recognized, funk, jazz, and soul powerhouse band by conductor, arranger, and head composer Conrad “Prof” Johnson. The “unbeatable” competing (they won 42 of their 46 competitions) and performing group, which recorded from 1968 into the late ’70s, got new shine from an NPR feature in 2006, prompting me to buy their CD for my father that year. The documentary follows original band members reuniting after 35 years to pay tribute to their former leader and friend. Now, having won the Audience Award at the Los Angeles Film Festival and Best Documentary at the Pan African Film Festival, the film is set for nationwide release on September 23rd. A bit of redemption for Jamie’s upcoming reprisal of his “Wanda” character, perhaps? Maybe. Worth checking out? Absolutely.
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