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Is The High Note a True Story?

May 30, 2020
3 min read

‘The High Note’ is a comedy-drama directed by Nisha Ganatra. It revolves around an iconic soul singer, Grace Davis (Tracee Ellis Ross), and her assistant, Maggie Sherwoode (Dakota Johnson). While Maggie works round the clock, her friends are not even sure her boss; Grace even knows her last name. Nonetheless, there is something about Davis’ music that moves and motivates Maggie to keep working for her.  The film highlights Davis’ struggles as a black singer over 40, trying to keep up with her legacy. Filled with humor, it aims to entertain. 

Is The High Note Based on a True Story?

No, ‘The High Note’ is not based on a true story. While watching Tracee Ellis Ross, dressed as a performing artist, might give us some ideas, especially since she is Diana Ross’ daughter, the film is completely fictional. The similarity is very much there, especially in the element that Ross brings as a singer to the film. In an interview with Bustle, Ross said, “The story really has nothing to do with any of the things that I know from my mom’s experience. Except for the fact that there’s a real humanity to this woman and she’s not a paper-thin quote-unquote diva that the world usually paints larger-than-life women as. She’s a real person.” Thus, the film is less about one person and more about the life of celebrity singers behind the glitter and glamour. 

In the film, as Davis crosses 40, her managers have ideas to keep the cash flowing in, like setting up a Vegas residency, a similar route taken by music stars like Celine Dion and Britney Spears. However, Davis wants to release another album. This becomes the site of humor in the film, but on a real note, this is also the real struggle that several female musicians face. Many of these female singers start in their teens, and their beauty and youth are highly marketed with their songs. While talent is a definite must, there is also the baggage of being appealing; unfortunately, that appeal a lot of times is more about physical appearance than anything else. While several prominent singers have broken away from this stereotype, it continues to be a trend. The film, in this sense, sheds much light on the struggles of being a black woman and a singer. It also addresses every singer’s dream, to be known for their songs and essence more than anything else. 

And of course, the struggles of an aspiring music producer are not lost through the narrative of Maggie, as she juggles menial jobs as Davis’ PA and her own passion. And this is the case for many who aspire to be full-timers in the music industry. Many have had to literally go through several phases before they make it. An example of this is Albhy Galuten, who worked his way up to become a Grammy-winning record producer. Hence, the film aims to do more than just get a few laughs. 

Read More: Where Was The High Note Filmed?

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