Music Called Invisibe Character in Film

November 2, 2007 at 10:57 am Leave a comment

Denzel Washington, left, and Russell CroweThere’s already Oscar buzz circulating around Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe for their roles in “American Gangster.” But those involved with the movie are hoping that talk extends to the music in the film as well.

The 1960s and ’70s-era soul music featured in the movie, out on Friday, is its invisible character, says Kathy Nelson, president of film music for Universal Pictures, who helped put together the music for “American Gangster.”

Some of the songs are classics, like Sam & Dave’s “Hold On, I’m Coming.” But because licensing music can be expensive, Nelson told The Associated Press they had to be creative at times.

“We made songs that sounded like they were from the period, but it’s actually original music,” Nelson, who also worked with producer Hank Shocklee, a founding member of Public Enemy, on the music. “It come off very authentic.”

The retro sound that she and director Ridley Scott were searching for led them to soul singer Anthony Hamilton. Hamilton is featured in the movie singing the “Do You Feel Me,” written by Diane Warren, during a scene in which Washington’s character, infamous Harlem drug lord Frank Lucas, meets his future wife.

Hamilton, known for hits like “Charlene,” admits he didn’t have much of an acting stretch.

“I was like, ‘Could y’all tell me who I’m playing? What’s my character?’ and they said ‘It’s you.'” And they showed me a sign outside the door and it said ‘Now Performing Nightly Anthony Hamilton.'”

Nelson said Hamilton was chosen chiefly because his sound fits so well with the era.

“He just feels like like he could have come right out of that period,” she said. “The song is just a great R&B love song. And it’s not a stretch for Anthony. It’s kind of what he does anyway. It’s not like taking an artist that would otherwise never record a song like this. It is what he does. It can easily fit into his current, modern-day repertoire.”

Nelson said she’s hopeful Warren will earn an Academy Award nomination for her song. “Not only is it not a sort of throwaway song that you hear over the end titles of a movie it’s integral to the film,” she said.

The film’s soundtrack will be released on Tuesday.



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