Black Jesus is Coming: Is the Evangelical World Ready for John Legend’s New Role
by G. Brown
Black Jesus is Coming to NBC-Live! Singer John Legend lands title role in the rock opera “Jesus Christ Superstar” which will be performed Live on NBC Easter Sunday.
Grammy Award winner Legend is perfect casting for a role that in the original 1970’s musical contained no spoken dialogue only songs. The musical centers around the final days of Jesus based loosely on the Gospel of the bible adapted to the contemporary lingo and attitudes of present day.
Legend was so “thrilled” to join the production that he immediately shared the news with fans and followers on social media…
— John Legend (@johnlegend) December 19, 2017
Legend later released a statement saying “It’s such a powerful, meaningful musical and I’m humbled to be part of this performance. We’ve already formed an incredible team, and, as we finish casting, I’m certain we will put together some of the greatest talents around to do this work justice.”
Legend may have an angelic voice as a gifted singer, but is the world ready to see a Black Jesus? Twitter is…
— Tshegs (@Tshegs) December 20, 2017
Not for nothing, but, trumps merry little band of evangelicals are going to be pissed. Maybe they won’t notice you’re black? Should be a great show & I’m sure #JesusChristSuperstarLive will be great too. Well done, John.
— Karen Guzowski (@klg921) December 19, 2017
Mormons aren’t gonna like it, they won’t recognize jesus when he doesn’t look like 2013 Jared Leto.
— CoJay (@beggin_4_thread) December 19, 2017
2011 Chris Cornell actually pic.twitter.com/FIsmpvXtKy
— bee (@beatrixarthur) December 19, 2017
I’m thoroughly enjoying the visual of heads exploding.
— Tanilove (@Tanilove) December 19, 2017
Who is Arthur in Heaven
— Daryl Liedecke (@DLiedecke) December 19, 2017
Uhhh…. it’s Harold as in “Harold be thy name”
— The Mega Doom Bot (@TheMegaDoomBot) December 19, 2017
Those last two tweets prove nothing is sacred when it comes to Twitter, but when it comes to the religious right it’s obvious they prefer their Savior like their Santa Claus–White.
Even though it’s a play admittedly full of anachronisms, giving the role of the messiah to a Black man could open the door to some controversy. But this musical cut its teeth on controversy.
The original show opened on Broadway in ’71 despite protests by religious groups. It was condemned by both Christians who found it blasphemous and Jews who feared it renewed antisemitic beliefs that the Jews killed Jesus. The play was even banned in South Africa for being “irreligious” and castigated as a “distribution of religious propaganda” by another country.
But instead of being a gateway to more controversy over religion and race, at least one Twitter user is prayerful Legend in the role can actually lead to a bit of redemption…
So hoping this brings us all together instead of widening the rift. Let’s leave politics out of it. Jesus was about love
— Judi (@juko6659) December 19, 2017
With the musical airing on the holiest holiday of the Christian calendar, NBC should attract a flock—er audience of millions.
What do you think…is Legend the perfect singer to play the role? Will people be able to look past the messenger and hear the message of this story?