• Thu. Jan 20th, 2022

Meet The Black Composers Behind The Music Of Today's Biggest Films

Jan 5, 2022

Black composers are still a rarity in the entertainment industry—but, increasingly, these talents are having their say on the soundtracks of films and TV shows.

This year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences made history with the nomination of two films with Black composers for Best Original Score—Da 5 Bloods and Soul, which won the Oscar. But these projects are only a sampling of the sonic genius crafted by Black tunesmiths. Meet three you should know. 

This article originally appears in the November/December issue of ESSENCE on newsstands now.Loading the player…01Kris Bowers

Bowers scored Respect, The U.S. vs. Billie Holiday and King Richard. Working on the biopic about Venus and Serena Williams’ dad resonated with the pianist, whose own father heard piano music on the radio once and told Bowers’ mother their son would be a musician. By age 8, Bowers was deep in lessons. “Dad would question my teachers after class and sit with me when I practiced at home until I was 15,” he recalls.

Like the Williams sisters, Bowers, 32, grew up in Compton with parents who sacrificed so he could excel. He’s grateful for the role they’ve played in his success, as well as the blueprint laid by predecessors like Oscar-winning producer Quincy Jones. “Growing up, there were only a couple of composers that looked like us,” he notes. “I hope this new generation can show other paths for musical gifts.”

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