In 1935, Melvin B. Tolson— educator, politician and eventual Poet Laureate of Liberia— led Wiley College’s debate team in a national championship victory against would-be unflappable Harvard University. The defeat would have been noteworthy regardless, but in this case it made history: Wiley was a historically black college in a tiny Texas town, hardly presumed to be a threat to their lilywhite Crimson counterparts.
In bringing the tale of the Wiley team and its mentor to the silver screen with this winter's The Great Debaters, director and star Denzel Washington and his crew strove for authenticity, soundtracking the movie entirely with music penned before and popular in 1935, from gospel hymns to popular tunes spanning jazz, blues and folk genres. And much as Washington bears an uncanny resemblance to Tolson himself (second row center here), the modern musicians lending their talents to the project could easily be mistaken for the real deal. The nineteen tracks feature mix-and-match collaborations with Alvin "Youngblood" Hart, The Carolina Chocolate Drops (pictured above, bottom), Teenie Hodges and more, plus period recordings from Art Tatum, Marian Anderson and The Delmore Brothers.
As previously reported, Sharon Jones (pictured above, top) will also make an appearance on the soundtrack and in the movie itself, taking her signature ’60s funk-and-soul throwback sound back even further. In fact, if you haven’t been paying attention, you might have mistaken Jones & the Dap Kings’ 100 Days, 100 Nights for a long-lost gem just recently unearthed from the nether regions of some cobwebby Stax storage closet. Even those of us clued in to the modern-day marvel of the late-blooming soul-sister and her funky crew of instrumentalists suspect they’re privy to some kind of funk-fueled time machine technology, which they’ve most recently employed in the creation of the music video for their LP’s title track. (Sources claim the crackly vintage vibe was actually achieved with two old cameras bough off eBay for $50 each.)
The soundtrack will be available in stores Dec. 11. The Great Debaters opens in theaters across the country on Dec. 25.
The tracklist includes:
1. "My Soul Is A Witness" - Alvin “Youngblood” Hart and Sharon Jones
2. "That's What My Baby Likes" - Sharon Jones, Alvin “Youngblood” Hart and Teenie Hodges
3. "I've Got Blood In My Eyes For You" - The Carolina Chocolate Drops and Alvin “Youngblood” Hart
4. "Step It Up and Go" - Alvin “Youngblood” Hart and Teenie Hodges
5. "It's Tight Like That" - Sharon Jones, Alvin “Youngblood Hart” and Teenie Hodges
6. "Busy Bootin’" - Alvin “Youngblood” Hart and The Carolina Chocolate Drops
7. "City Of Refuge" - Alvin “Youngblood” Hart and The Carolina Chocolate Drops
8. "Two Wings" - Alvin “Youngblood” Hart and Sharon Jones with Billy Rivers and the Angelic Voices of Faith
9. "Delta Serenade" - David Berger & The Sultans of Swing
10. "Rock n' Rye" - David Berger & The Sultans of Swing
11. "Wild About That Thing" - Sharon Jones, Alvin “Youngblood Hart” and Teenie Hodges
12. "Nobody's Fault But Mine" - Alvin “Youngblood” Hart and The Carolina Chocolate Drops
13. "How Long Before I Change My Clothes" - Alvin “Youngblood” Hart
14. "We Shall Not Be Moved" - Sharon Jones with Billy Rivers and the Angelic Voices of Faith
15. "Up Above My Head" - Sharon Jones with Billy Rivers and the Angelic Voices of Faith
16. "The Shout" - Art Tatum
17. "Scoodle Um Skoo" - Papa Charlie Jackson
18. "I Ain't Got Nowhere To Travel" - The Delmore Brothers
19. "Begrussung" - Marian Anderson
The Great Debaters on IMDB
The Carolina Chocolate Drops on MySpace
Paste: Sharon Jones to sing on the silver screen
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