Singer, actress, and film and television producer Queen Latifah is lending her Grammy-winning talents to the Boston Pops to kick off the 2017 spring season at Symphony Hall on May 10-11. But first, she sang the orchestra’s praises and sounded off on her next roles.
What can the audience expect from your Pops performances? They can expect glamour! Romance! Excitement! [Laughs.] … We’re going to give you a little mixture of some of my jazz standards, maybe even a touch of hip-hop if it’s possible, but definitely some moody songs, some exciting songs that are rhythmic. And, of course, we love a little crowd participation, so hopefully the audience is in the mood to sing along. I’m taking some things from the jazz albums and maybe some things from the movies, you know, like maybe I’ll do “I Know Where I’ve Been” from Hairspray or “When You’re Good to Mama” from Chicago. We’ll see what the vibe is like, but we’re playing two nights so we’ll mix up the sets a little bit.
You started your music career as a rapper—how does it feel to be playing opening night of a classical orchestra? I think it’s fantastic. It’s an honor and a privilege to be able to play the Boston Pops—the conductor, it’s such a beautiful house, and in Boston, which is a town I’ve always loved to be in. … It’s always been a good vibe up there from the beginning of my career and I’ve always found the audience to be pretty adept. They can handle all kinds of music. It’s always been a good place to play different kinds of music, so I just hope we can get it going and get everyone excited for the season. It’s springtime, summer’s coming. I just want everyone to come out and have a good time.
You’re starring in Girls Trip, which comes out in July and stars Jada Pinkett Smith, Regina Hall and Tiffany Haddish. Was it as much fun to make it as it seems? I mean insanely fun. You can’t imagine being around girls who are so funny. The script was already funny, already out of control, completely off the hook and perfect. We got to shoot in New Orleans, which is a fun place to be, another huge music town, during the Essence Festival. The energy is crazy. You’ve got half a million people, most of whom are black women, who come down to feed their souls and hear all kinds of great music and get a little raunchy maybe. [Laughs.] So it’s the perfect backdrop for this film. We’re four girls trying to get it back together, trying to rekindle our friendships after going to college together and doing the wild college life and graduating, getting into our jobs, our lives. There’s a lot of madness, some really, really funny things. It was cool shooting with them. Tiffany Haddish is a comedian, so every word out of her mouth, practically, is hilarious. Then Regina Hall should be a comedian because she is so funny. She’s funnier than many comedians that I know. … It was just like a party. And then I of course had the party house. I rented a house for the summer so just on the weekends, I’d have barbecues just so everybody could come and take a break. We’re all friends, so we had a place where we could all kick back and not be famous.
You’ve also just signed on to star in Lifetime’s Flint. Do you enjoy seeking out variety in your film roles? It’s always been important for me since the beginning. I basically took what I did in music and translated it into film. I’ve always been one of those people with a huge demographic in terms of the people I appeal to with the music I make. You’re talking about a rapper who’s rapping, and then she’s making reggae-influenced rap; then she’s making house music-influenced rap and speaking about world issues and feminist ideas. … It satisfies me to be able to engage different kinds of people and really find a commonality, me being the common denominator of those different kinds of folks, and finding that people are a lot more similar than they’d like to give themselves credit for.