Reel Singing Sistas

Multitasking is nothing new for the sistas. So in honor of the 50th Anniversary of the Grammy Awards, I have decided to show some love to 10 Reel Sistas who had success in the music world before taking the big screen by storm.


At the age of 15 Pearl quit school for a career as a singer and dancer. She sang in cafés and nightclubs and recorded with Cootie Williams and Count Basie. She appeared in her first film, “Variety Girl,” in 1947.

At age 67, Pearl graduated from Georgetown University with a bachelor’s degree in theology. Pearl died in 1990 from heart failure.


The self-proclaimed “Original Material Girl,” Eartha is the talented singer with the distinctive voice. Her hits include “Just an Old Fashioned Girl”, “Monotonous”, and her most recognizable hit, “Santa Baby.” She is fluent in French and has always been wildley popular in Europe.

Earth went on to appear in films including “Anna Lucasta” in 1959. In 1967, Eartha became an indeliable fixture in popular culture when she took on the role of Catwoman on the Batman television series. Her signature “puurr” solidified her star status.

Today Eartha, who turned 80 last year, continues to perform. For more on Eartha click here

Lena Horne is a consumate singer with numerous Grammys and other awards. She began her career at age 16 singing at the Cotton Club in Harlem. Under the guidance of such greats as Lena transitioned from the small stage to the big screen.

Horne became the first African American performer to sign a long-term contract with a major Hollywood studio. She made her debut with MGM in 1942’s “Panama Hattie” and also starred in 1943’s “Stormy Weather” and “Cabin in the Sky,” widely regarded as her best theatrical performance.

Lena now resides in New York and no longer makes public appearances. Recently, it was released that Alicia Keys (also on this list) was hand picked by producer Oprah Winfrey to play Lena in an upcoming biopic.

Diana Ross rose to fame and is best known for being the lead singer of the most popular girl group of all time, The Supremes.

After leaving the group to pursue a solo career, Diana also pursued acting. In 1972 she won the starring role in the biopic “Lady Sings the Blues.” Diana was nominated for an Academy Award for the film.

Diana also starred in “Mahogany” and “The Wiz” before refocusung her career on her music.


Aaliyah Houghton burst onto the music scene in 1994 1ith the release of hwe debut album Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number. At only 15, Aaliyah found success with the single “Back and Forth.” She went on to record two more records and had several top ten hits.

She appeared in her first film, “Romeo Must Die” in 2000. Follwing her success in the film, Aaliyah was tapped to star in the film adaptation of the Anne Rice novel “The Queen of the Damned.”

She had just completed work on her second film and was slatted to play the lead in the film “Honey” (the role later went to Jessica Alba) as well as the two “Marix” sequels when sadly, Aaiyah was killed in a plane crash in August of 2001.


Queen Latifah, born Dana Owens, started her career in entertainment as one of the most successful female rappers in history. She scored numerous number one hits and a Grammy for her song “U.N.I.T.Y”

Recently, She has also recorded two jazz influenced soul albums.

As an actresss, Queen Latifah was received acclaim from audiences and critics alike. She was nominated for an Academy Award for her role in the film Chicago. In addition to acting, Queen Latifah has serves a producer on several of her films and co-own Flavor Unit Productions.


Alicia Keys started acting at age 5 with a bit role on The Cosby Show. At age 7 she began piano lessons and the rest in history. The classically trained pianist and singer has garnered huge success including Grammys and number one singles and albums.

Alicia returned to acting in the 2006 film “Smoking Aces.”

Alicia is currently filming “The Secret Life of Bees” with fellow reel sistas Queen Latifah and Jennifer Hudson.


As a founder member of the multiplatinum girl group Destinys Child, Beyonce Knowles conquered the music industry before he age of 20.

In 2002 Beyonce made her feature film debut opposite Mike Myers in “Austin Myers in Goldmember.” In 2006 she got “role of her life.” Beyonce was selected to play Deena Jones in the big screen adaptation of the 1980’s mega musical “Dreamgirls”

Next, Beyonce will play Etta James in the film “Cadillac Records.”


Before dominating the music industry for much of the late 80s and early 90’s, Janet Jackson was known for her small screen characters Penny on Good Times and Charlene on Diff’rent Strokes. In 1986 with help of mega producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Janet released the album Control.

Janet made her film debut in 199’s “Poetic Justice” starring opposite the late Tupac Shakur. She can currently be seen on Tyler Perry’s “Why Did I Get Married” which will be out on DVD in February of 2008.


In 2000, Jill Scott released her poular debut Who is Jill Scott? Words and Sounnds Volume 1. The platinum selling artist went on to win two Grammy Awards for her works as a singer.
In 2007, Jill received critical praise in Tyler Perry’s “Why Did I Get Married.” Next, she will be seen in “The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency” due out later this year.

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