Terence Blanchard in 2013. Photo by Kim Welsh

The music for BlacKkKlansman comes from NOLA’s very own Terence Blanchard

BlacKkKlansman is Spike Lee’s provocative film about an African-American detective who goes undercover to infiltrate the local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. Based on a true story, the film has achieved global fame with a score was created by New Orleans’ very own Terence Blanchard.

In the debut episode of a new interview series called “Jazz Club” on TIDAL, Hans Schuman sat down with Blanchard to discuss his career and partnership with Spike Lee.

Blanchard is a five-time Grammy award-winning musician who has created 40 film scores including those for every Spike Lee film since 1991. He comes from a musical family and attended New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA) where he collaborated with Wynton Marsalis. Blanchard began his career with the Lionel Hampton Orchestra and then joined Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers.

Blanchard was surprised when Spike Lee asked him to write the score for Jungle Fever in 1991. Then Lee asked him to write the score for every film since.

Blanchard knows that Spike Lee doesn’t just want the music to be not only great, but also memorable. He wants the audience to walk away humming. While they used to go through a film “scene by scene,” Blanchard now knows how to create music that works with Lee’s cinematic taste and style.

“When someone trusts you like that, you don’t want to let them down,” said Blanchard.

Whether he is creating a film score or writing music with his band, the E Collective, Blanchard often harkens back to the wise words of Art Blakey: “Never speak above your audience, never speak beneath your audience, you have to speak straight to ‘em all the time.”

When he’s not creating film scores, Blanchard is touring with his band the E Collective.“I love the immediate reaction you can get from playing with musicians…You don’t get that immediate reaction from an audience….There’s something about it that’s scary sometimes but also extremely rewarding if you surrender yourself to it,” he said.

Check out the interview clip below and head to a screening of BlacKkKlansman in a theater near you to hear Blanchard’s newest masterpiece.