Hollywood head-hunts Kenya’s young musician Shanah Manjeru for a film role
By Elly Gitau
Kenya’s young gospel musician Shanah Manjeru was remarkably head-hunted by Hollywood to audition for the role of young Aretha Franklin in the upcoming MGM Studios film, Respect, directed by Liesl Tommy.
About the film
The film covers the childhood, rise to stardom, and impact on the civil rights movement of the legendary Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin.
After five gruesome auditions that lasted two months, and which tested 11-year-old Shanah’s soaring soprano musical notes and her acting skills, sadly, another young African American female talent was cast.
The auditions were a major affirmation of Shanah’s singing talent, and seen as a major achievement in her singing career for Hollywood to even consider her worthy of representing the young life of a global superstar such as Aretha Franklin.
“We appreciate so much Shanah’s hard work. She is incredibly talented and wonderful,” said the audition team, further adding; “Both our director and music director loved her read of the scenes and what she did during the music session.”
Shanah auditioned alongside top female prodigy musicians worldwide aged between 10 and 14.
Respect is due in theatres in August 2020 and will star Hollywood’s top actors and actresses among them Oscar Award winner Jennifer Hudson, who will star as Aretha Franklin, as well as Mary J. Blige, Forest Whitaker, Marlon Wayans, and Tituss Burgess.
Aretha Franklin was known for her powerful and moving gospel songs that transcended boundaries before her death in August of 2018. Her musical legacy spanned 17 Grammys and countless mega-hits.
About Shanah Manjeru
In October 2017, a nine-year-old Shanah went professional and released her debut song Destiny, followed later in February 2018 with her second music release, We Are One, then closely in April 2018 with her third music release, Winner.
In December 2018, she released God Will Listen. Her most recent double releases are Worship and Worship Symphony, both released in April 2019.
In relation to her music, Shanah won the Arts and Culture Award at the second edition of the annual African Children of the Year Awards 2019 held in South Africa. Her song Winner won the Song of the Year Award during the Kenya Gospel Music Awards 2018.
In this year’s Maranatha Global Gospel Music Awards, Shanah won the Outstanding Alternative-Urban Fusion Minister of Excellence 2019. She was also a Groove Awards 2019 nominee.