Original 'Sparkle' Star Lonette McKee on Life After Making a Classic

Lonette McKee

Page 2 of 2

When I found out about the remake I said this is a great time to get in touch with the original cast members and see if they are on-board to do a live concert version. We will also take it to Detroit, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington D.C. Chicago, Atlanta and maybe Texas. I am writing a bit of banter in between the songs but it will be a concert performance of the music in Sparkle.

EBONY: I think fans will be very happy to hear the originals do the songs live. Were you disappointed not to appear on the soundtrack?

LM: For me to know Aretha Franklin did the soundtrack, I loved it and did not have a problem with it. Of course in retrospect we know the audience was so hyper-devoted to the original and would have loved to hear us do an album or CD on it. It is what it is and I was very thrilled that Aretha did it, frankly.

EBONY: What was it like working with Curtis Mayfield during that period?

LM: He was wonderful. Curtis wrote all the tracks and set all the tracks in keys before he heard any of us sing. This was most of ours first movie. So what they did was fly us in to his private studio and I thought it was to set the key. In reality he had already laid the tracks so most of those keys for me were too high. He was not gonna change those keys at all so I had to figure out how to sing them even though they weren’t comfortable to me.

EBONY: Do you maintain a close relationship with the cast?

LM: We all remained in contact but we are all scattered around. So I can’t say we remained close but we all still love each other. The experience is still fresh in our minds. It was everybody’s first film so it creates a bond.

EBONY: I think the beauty of your story is that you continue to dream and pursue those dreams similar to the theme of Sparkle.

LM: We have to especially in these times. We are all living in very hard times and they are particularly hard for people of color I really think it is important we have some dreams we aspire to. You have to set a goal where you want to go before you know where you’re going. I feel like we all are entitled to dream big and eventually one day they will happen.