Blige, Saadiq sing a 'Precious' song

R&B stars talk new tune at conference

During the recording of an original song for the forthcoming film "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire," director Lee Daniels "made me pull every single thing from my guts," Mary J. Blige told a packed house Friday at The Hollywood Reporter/Billboard Film & TV Music Conference. "He said, 'I know you have it in you.' I finally got to the point where the very next day I just went in and threw up on the record."

Blige joined Raphael Saadiq, her co-producer and co-writer of the movie's song "I Can See in Color," in an interview with Billboard senior editor Gail Mitchell to discuss the inspiration and creative process behind the track.

Both Blige and Saadiq were emotionally affected by the subject matter of the film, which is out from Lionsgate Nov. 6. Blige, who had her own troubled childhood, could particularly relate to the movie's depiction of physical and verbal abuse. After she watched the movie, Blige said she "just sat there for two minutes, stuck, with nothing to say."

Revisiting painful memories while making "I See In Color" was a frightening process, "but it was the worry and fear that gave the record its presence," said a tearful Blige. "I just get tired of having to tell a story over and over again. Then you see a movie like that and you know why you have to tell a story over and over and over again."

After seeing the movie, "I called my uncle and thanked him for not molesting me," said Saadiq. "He was like, what?"

The song's title was inspired by Blige, who said she sees music, and life, in colors. "When I'm depressed, I see in black and white. The flowers are not yellow...this movie is very grim but optimistic." Working with Saadiq, whom Blige said brings a "rawness" to music, meant that "I could just give him what I can see and he can make it come to life."

Both Blige and Saadiq are interested in pursuing more film projects. Blige said she would "put my all" into a long-discussed Nina Simone biopic, while Saadiq would like to set music to a day-in-the-life depiction of Bill Cosby or Sidney Poitier.