The Color Purple is set up to be the movie musical event of the season thanks to a star-studded cast of heavy hitters and a beloved story that lends itself to any adaptation. The film’s soundtrack, Music From And Inspired By The Color Purple, expands upon that theme tenfold by mashing up elements from the original film’s soundtrack and the Broadway play along with a slew of original songs and remixes from contemporary artists. The result is a blending of past and current sounds that, like the film and story, speak to every generation.
The first half of the album features songs as they appear in the film, shining a light on the cast performing songs from the play along with two highlights (“Miss Celie’s Blues” and “Maybe God Is Trying To Tell You Something,” both showcasing Taraji P. Henson’s vocal chops as Shug Avery) updated from the original film and a few songs made specifically for this adaptation (including Halle’s “Keep It Moving” and Fantasia’s end credits number “SUPERPOWER”). It’s the second half where the script gets completely flipped, however.
That’s where a veritable who’s who of Black music’s current crop comes through. Kicking off with Usher and H.E.R.’s “Risk It All,” it seems like there aren’t many that don’t come through to join the party. Missy Elliott and Timbaland remix a few songs (in turn infusing some hip-hop in the mix by bringing Black Thought and Megan Thee Stallion into the fold), Alicia Keys contributes the pop-R&B cut “Lifeline” and Mary J. Blige and Keyshia Cole each contribute their own cuts speaking to the film’s message of perseverance over adversity.
Much more happens throughout, though, as rising acts such as Jane Handcock, Coco Jones and October London get to rub elbows with more established performers such as Jennifer Hudson, Tamela Mann and Mary Mary over the album’s whopping 37 tracks. It might all seem a bit overstuffed — and with a runtime nearly as long as the film itself, one could argue that it is — but the hodgepodge approach works in its own way as it offers a little something for everyone to enjoy.