Morgan Freeman, the man with the voice of God, will leading a BBC Radio 2 documentary this Easter Monday.
Called The Raw Pearl Bailey, the series will center of their music and life of actress and singer Pearl Bailey at the centenary year of her birth.
An enormous Bailey fan, Freeman made his Broadway debut with Pearl when he starred in a all-black creation of Hello Dolly at 1967.
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“It was a monumental moment for me, seeing Pearl Bailey sass the crowd as well as absorbing her professionalism,” says Freeman. He says that he considers Hello Dolly! One of the top five shows of his profession, and because he exclaims from the Radio 2 documentary itself, “She had been top to bottom real, and in case you are listening up Pearl — Baby I LOVE YOU!”
Even a preacher’s daughter from Virginia, Pearl Bailey acquired stardom as an actress and singer on Broadway, before going on to star in movies including Carmen Jones and Porgy and Bess.
On the record of Porgy and Bess, ” Bailey contested the filmmakers to their ‘undignified and unnatural’ depiction of African American dialect, telling reporters,”There’s a good deal of people out there waiting for a dialect, so let’s talk how we really talk, without the ‘dems, doeses and deses. We don’t talk like this. Maybe we did 50 decades ago, but not now.”
With contributions from play historians and critics Imelda May, Freeman will also delve into Pearl’s encounters with racism, her friendships with Presidents Johnson, Nixon and Ford, and, ultimately, her death in 1990.
And remember, even if you’re not even a Pearl Bailey fan then it will be well worth listening to: that can be Morgan Freeman’s voice we are speaking about.
The Raw Pearl Bailey is on BBC Radio 2, Monday 2nd April, 10pm