*Dee Rees, the director of HBO’s upcoming biopic on Bessie Smith says don’t expect to hear a lot of her popular hits in the film.
Queen Latifah plays the blues icon from her days as a struggling young singer to becoming a national superstar on such signature tunes as “Gimme a Pigfoot (And a Bottle of Beer)” and “T’ain’t Nobody’s Biz-Ness If I Do.”
But Rees says the songs pulled from Smith’s discography were chosen based on their lyrics, not their popularity.
“It’s not going to be the songs that you know,” Rees warned the TCA in January. “The lyrics actually deliver on her emotional narrative.
“It’s the songs that actually tell us more about who she was, not just, like, pick the ‘Bottle of Beer.’”
Below, Rees says she also wanted to focus on the songs that Smith, herself, wrote.
“Bessie,” co-starring Mo’Nique as Ma Rainey, premieres Saturday, May 16 at 9 p.m. on HBO.
Last week, HBO teased some of the film’s “musical moments” in a series of promo videos.