‘Da 5 Bloods’ Composer on Spike Lee’s Vision, Marvin Gaye’s Message and Hollywood’s POC Blindspot

Composer Terence Blanchard has collaborated with Spike Lee for over 30 years, going back to 1991 when the director tapped him to score “Jungle Fever.” Since then, Blanchard’s credits include over 15 Lee films including “BlacKkKlansman,” “Malcolm X” and his latest, “Da 5 Bloods,” now streaming on Netflix.

The story of four Vietnam War veterans, played by Isiah Whitlock Jr., Norm Lewis, Clarke Peters and Delroy Lindo, who return to the to retrieve the body of their leader, Stormin’ Norman (Chadwick Boseman), the film flips between past and present as  Blanchard’s score threads the characters’ individual stories. Powerful performances coupled with Lee’s vision drive the project home.

Blanchard, who moonlights as a jazz musician when he isn’t scoring to picture, talked to Variety about his process, musical influences and the challenges he faced as a person of color coming up in the film music industry.

How has the music in Spike Lee films evolved over the years?

It’s hard to say. Part of the evolution comes from his growth as a storyteller. I remember when I got “Da 5 Bloods,” I thought, “Okay,” but when I saw it, I thought, “Oh my God.” That opening theme scared me to death and took me five days to write.

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