On paper a good idea. In execution it is painful. Life (and films) is like that sometimes. The best ideas don’t always work. The studio must have had some inkling as to the dud they had on their hands as the film sat on the shelf for three years. I have seen worse straight to video films, but not by much.
Pastor Winter (Marvin Winans) and his family have moved to a new church in New York City. His young daughter Doris is going to sing her first solo in the church choir. Her mom (Lynn Whitfield – Stepmom, A Thin Line Between Love and Hate) is nervous, but her father is confident. While preaching Pastor Winter collapses and dies.
Eight years later, Doris is about to graduate from high school. She is singing back up for her aunt (Patti LaBelle – Semi-Pro, A Soldier’s Story) in clubs. Doris is approached by a band member to tour as their vocalist. Her mother doesn’t want her to. She is only 17-years-old. Doris insists saying that her father encouraged her to follow her dreams.
Soon after Doris begins working with label owner Dylan (Billy Zane – Titanic, Back to the Future). He tells her to change her name to Amara (Ciara). Soon Amara is being told what to sing and wear.
Amara’s mother is now well-known preacher, Reverend Dr. Lillian Winter. Reverend Winter has her own television show. There is a chance it might get syndicated. Mother and daughter are in conflict about her career. Dr. Winter is not happy with her daughter’s image. She is worried that she doesn’t know her children anymore. Amara’s brother Luke (Kevin Phillips – Red Tails, Notorious) is a photographer. They all have busy lives and don’t see each other that much.
Luke is offered a job as a photojournalist in Baghdad where he will travel with the army. He goes off and family becomes much more important to everyone as a result.
Mama, I Want to Sing suffers from a crisis of identity. It really doesn’t know what type of film it wants to be. As a result it just moves on aimlessly. None of the characters are given time to develop. The story doesn’t even seem to have a point. Then all of a sudden something big happens and it is just over. Thanks for coming out, folks! Ends up feeling like a bunch of scenes just thrown together.