“How do we summarize a life that has touched so many people around the world,” acclaimed songwriter Jamie Hartman declares about the original song “Here I Am (Singing My Way Home)” from the Aretha Franklin biopic “Respect.” We talked with Hartman as part of Gold Derby’s special film songwriters “Meet the Experts” Q&A event with key Oscar contenders. Watch our exclusive video interview above.
Based on the life of the soul and gospel singing legend, “Respect,” was written by Tracey Scott Wilson and Oscar winner Callie Khouri and directed by Liesl Tommy in her feature directorial debut. Starring Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson as Franklin alongside co-stars Oscar winner Forest Whitaker, Tony winner Audra McDonald, Marlon Wayans, Marc Maron, Tituss Burgess and Mary J. Blige, the biopic follows the first three decades of the singer’s life, from childhood to her ascendancy to international musical stardom.
The song is nominated at the Grammy Awards (Best Song Written for Visual Media) and competed at the recent Golden Globe Awards. Hartman is the co-writer with film star Hudson and music legend Carole King.
While the British songwriter is best known for writing acclaimed pop and dance hits, he was keen to try his hand at a gospel ballad that would close out the ultimate tribute to Franklin and her legacy. After teaming up with frequent collaborator and leading lady Hudson, he approached legendary songwriter Carole King, who (to his surprise) agreed to join them on penning the gospel ballad.
“The two of them collaboratively were an incredible partnership because you get so much gospel and you get so much of the songwriting class and the chord structures. So for me, it really was my opportunity to bring out the black woman trapped in a white man’s body, which is what I had been since I was a kid,” he smiles.
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