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SoundTRAX: "Waiting to Exhale"

Loretta Devine, Whitney Houston, Angela Bassett and Lela Rochon are laughing together.
Arista Records
/
20th Century Fox

SoundTRAX is a dive into notable music from iconic films and TV shows every Monday-Thursday at 8:10.

On this first day of Black History Month, what's better than a movie that celebrates Black women and their friendships? I'll tell you: a soundtrack that consists only of amazing Black women singing songs of empowerment.

I'm talking about Waiting to Exhale from 1995.

Actor Forest Whitaker made his directorial debut with the film but, oh, that cast.

The magnificent Angela Bassett, who was clearly destined to become the ultimate revenge meme— you know you've seen her setting that cheating husband's stuff on fire! It's glorious.

Whitney Houston, more than holding her own with more seasoned costars, still young and breathtakingly beautiful, far removed from what her life would tragically become.

Longtime scene stealer Loretta Devine is endearing as usual, especially paired with the late, great Gregory Hines. Lela Rochon, Dennis Haysbert, Mykelti Williamson, Donald Faison, and Wesley Snipes round out the cast.

The music is irresistible, written and produced by none other than Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds.

Naturally, you've got to have some Whitney, right? Houston contributes three tunes, the movie's theme song "Exhale (Shoop Shoop)," "Why Does It Hurt So Bad?," and "Count On Me," a collaboration with gospel great CeCe Winans.

But you also get selections from Diva Queens like Aretha Franklin, Patti LaBelle, and Chaka Khan, plus gems from 90s favorites like Brandy, Toni Braxton, TLC, Faith Evans, and SWV.

But for today's SoundTRAX selection, I'm going with my favorite from the compilation, a true powerhouse of an anthem by a powerhouse of a vocalist.

From Waiting to Exhale, it's Mary J. Blige with "Not Gon' Cry."

Mel is the WFPK morning host. Email Mel at mfisher@lpm.org.