Angela Bassett Celebrates Tina Turner’s ‘Journey to Independence’ in Rock Hall Speech
Angela Bassett celebrated the life and musical achievements of Tina Turner with an electrifying speech to induct the legendary artist into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame on Saturday, Oct. 30.
While Turner was previously inducted into the Rock Hall alongside Ike Turner, Bassett stressed Turner’s worthy induction as a solo artist was part of the icon’s “journey to independence.” She continued, “For Tina, hope triumphed over hate. Faith won over fear. And ambition eclipsed adversity.”
Bassett famously portrayed Turner in the 1993 biopic What’s Love Got to Do With It, earning a Golden Globe win and an Oscar nomination. In her speech, Bassett said of the role, “It was one of the most demanding roles I’ve ever played. But it was also one of the most fulfilling. Because just like Tina, I too was a little Black girl, who had dreams far beyond what the world expected of me.”
Adapted from Turner’s autobiography, I, Tina, What’s Love Got to Do With It traces Turner’s life and hard-won rise to fame, and details her physically abusive marriage to musician Ike. In an interview with the American Film Institute, Bassett discussed Turner’s courage and how the film continues to resonate.
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“What’s Love has been inspirational to a lot of people for a number of years. The strength in the person of Tina Turner, the vulnerability, the faith and belief in something and someone, the courage to pull yourself up and to run out, to run for your life, to save yourself, to get out of a bad situation that’s just been bad for a long time, and it takes a great deal of courage to do that and it’s real, and it’s something that’s prevalent,” Bassett said. “It’s been the experience of many people, it’s hit close to home and yet we’ve been moved for years without knowledge of that by the brilliance and the talent and the ability and the tenacity in the ferocious spirit of the performer of both performers, an amazing electric fiery performance between the two of them and connection and chemistry. And yet we didn’t know what lurks behind the scenes and what it takes to be transparent about that and to stand up in the face of that.”
Read the full text of Bassett’s rousing speech below.
The year Tina Turner was born, contralto Marion Anderson sang before an unprecedented crowd of 75,000 at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC after being denied an indoor performance space because she was a Black woman.
To be a woman and to be Black, often meant a lifetime of being defined as not good enough. Imagine: A black girl in Nutbush, Tennessee who embodied more talent than her small town could have ever dreamed. Imagine that same girl breaking through every barrier to one day make history. That woman, that queen — Tina Turner — is who we are here tonight to celebrate.
What a life Tina has led. Her story has become a film, a documentary, a blockbuster Broadway show, and a best-selling autobiography. People still regularly tell me how much Tina has meant to them. I know exactly what they mean. Because she has meant that much, and more, to me. I, too, am one of those people blessed by Tina’s remarkable gift to inspire. When I played Tina in What’s Love Got to Do With It, I had the terrifying opportunity of trying to figure out how she became the extraordinary woman that we’ve come to know. Fortunately, I had the generous guidance of Tina herself to help me. It was one of the most demanding roles I’ve ever played. But it was also one of the most fulfilling. Because just like Tina, I too was a little Black girl, who had dreams far beyond what the world expected of me.
As a Black woman, Tina reached deep into her spiritual core with the determination to headline arenas and stadiums just like the great rock bands did. No one who looked like her had ever done it, but she believed that she could. Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Rod Stewart, Bryan Adams all wanted to duet with Tina, and they did. Soon, she was playing to crowds every bit as large as theirs. She broke ground for women and served as a role model for younger artists just as those rock stars had done for her.
Tina is a brilliant artist who has won nine Grammy Awards and sold more than 200 million records. Her voice is instantly recognizable because it comes directly from her soul. And those songs — “We Don’t Need Another Hero,” “Private Dancer,” “Better Be Good to Me” and of course, “The Best.” However, I didn’t mention one of her greatest songs, the one that gave our movie its title. That’s because as far as Tina is concerned love always has everything to do with it. She brings depths of love to everything she does, on and off the stage.
Now let us remember Tina is already a member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame from her earlier work with Ike Turner. However, what brings us here tonight is Tina’s journey to independence. For Tina, hope triumphed over hate. Faith won over fear. And ambition eclipsed adversity. In the words of the late Maya Angelou, “You may shoot me with your words/You may cut me with your eyes/You may kill me with your hatefulness/But still, like air, I’ll rise.”
And Tina rose.
It is my privilege, my honor to give the incomparable Tina Turner a recognition she so richly deserves. Tina, welcome — on your own — to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame!