Terence Blanchard (‘BlacKkKlansman’) would be only the 2nd black composer to win Best Score at the Oscars

Terence Blanchard has composed movie scores for decades, going all the way back to Spike Lee‘s “Jungle Fever” (1991). He has written music for numerous other Spike Lee joints, as well as “Eve’s Bayou” (1997), “Love and Basketball” (2000), “Cadillac Records” (2008) and many more, but his Oscar nomination for “BlacKkKlansman” is the first of his career. Perhaps even more surprising, it’s the first nomination for a black composer in 31 years, and he would be only the second ever to win.

The only black winner in history was musician Herbie Hancock for “Round Midnight” (1986). A couple of years before that Prince won for his score for “Purple Rain” (1984), but that was in the now-defunct Best Song Score category, not for an instrumental score. Immediately after Hancock’s historic victory, South African musician Jonas Gwangwa was nominated alongside George Fenton for scoring “Cry Freedom” (1987). But that was it. No black composer was nominated again until now.

Blanchard has been recognized by other awards groups, though. He earned a Golden Globe nom for composing Lee’s “25th Hour” (2003). And he’s a five-time Grammy winner. Most of those victories from the recording academy were for jazz recordings, but his most recent was just this year when he claimed Best Instrumental Composition for “Blut Und Boden (Blood And Soil),” a selection from his “BlacKkKlansman” score.

The current Oscar race for Best Score is one of the most wide-open in recent memory. The Golden Globe and Critics’ Choice winner was “First Man,” which was snubbed at the Oscars. The BAFTA Award for Best Original Music went to both the songs and the score from “A Star is Born,” which is also not nominated in this category at the Oscars. And there’s no corresponding composers guild award to guide our predictions like there is for other fields like writing, acting, sound, costumes and more.

As of this writing “BlacKkKlansman” trails in our predictions for Best Score with 9/2 odds, but one of the Expert journalists we’ve polled, Gold Derby’s own Susan King, says the film will win. So does Gold Derby Editor Matt Noble. Could they be right?

Be sure to check out how our experts rank this year’s Oscar contenders. Then take a look at the most up-to-date combined odds before you make your own Oscar predictions. Don’t be afraid to jump in now since you can keep changing your predictions until winners are announced on February 24.

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