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Jacqueline B. Arnold and the company of Moulin Rouge! The Musical On Broadway

Source: Matthew Murphy / Courtesy Moulin Rouge! The Musical

Where would music be without the genius of Black women? Black women have made an undeniable mark in music across all genres and Moulin Rouge! The Musical is no exception. The spectacular musical, now on Broadway, would not provide the same impact without their contributions. Filled with more than 70 songs from over 160 songwriters representing 160 years of music, Moulin Rouge! The Musical taps into the talent of some iconic Black women artists and the songs you’ll never forget.

“Voulez-vous coucher avec moi?” The famous phrase from the chorus of the staple song, “Lady Marmalade,” sounds so electric coming from The Lady Ms during the musical’s vibrant opening number. It sets the tone for the seedy nightclub where our unknown journey ahead begins, even if you don’t speak French. The English translation, “Do you want to sleep with me?” would not quite have the same effect. The original 1974 record by the powerhouse group Labelle, featuring lead singer Patti Labelle, set the standard for this sexy and sensual #1 hit song. The 2001 remake, produced by Missy Elliott, for the Moulin Rouge! movie soundtrack featured Lil’ Kim, Mya, Pink and Christian Aguilera, and became a number-one hit on the Billboard Hot 100 for five weeks. It was the ninth song in history to reach number one by two different musical acts in America.

Moulin Rouge! The Musical seamlessly packs the foot-tapping two acts with number one records intended to pique your interest. Whitney Houston makes more than one appearance in The Musical, via #1 records “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)” and “I Will Always Love You.” The Grammy Award-winning song “I Wanna Dance…” became the 4th consecutive number one hit for Houston, while “I Will Always Love You” became one of Houston’s best-selling singles and won multiple accolades, including numerous Soul Train, Grammy, American Music, and Billboard Awards. Houston confidently solidified her place in music history with the 1992 rendition of the song, originally written and sung by Dolly Parton.

Speaking of award winners, what would a hit-filled musical be without the Queen of popular music? The one and only Beyonce has a melody also befitting the vibrant musical. In a blissful mashup, “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” makes a splash alongside Rihanna’s “Diamonds” and an earlier classic, Shirley Bassey’s “Diamonds are Forever,” during the introduction to the musical’s luxurious leading lady character, Satine. Another Rihanna song, “Only Girl (In The World),” pops up later in the show in an unsuspecting voice that will pleasantly surprise you. Dripping in Grammy Award-winning songs, Satine will endear you to “The Sparkling Diamond” medley just as Beyonce, Rihanna, and Shirley did. You might even say you love it!

But “What’s Love Got to Do with It?” Only EVERYTHING. Moulin Rouge! The Musical is a love story, and Tina Turner’s 3 x Grammy Award-winning, sole number one hit record adds complexity to another mashup of hit love songs called “The Elephant Love Medley.” Despite the number’s brevity, the emotional sentiment is truly felt at that moment.

Moulin Rouge! The Musical is filled with every genre of music but Black women have influenced every one of them. The show itself can be a beautiful reminder of the reigning influence of Black women in music and the impact they’ve had on all of us. These voices touched hearts across cultures and broke barriers in ways we’ll never forget.


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