I got a copy of Unsung the other day for two of the upcoming shows: Stacy Lattisaw and Rose Royce. I LOVE that show, it is truly the BEST thing TV One produces and I look forward to watching it each season. In addition it brings the point home that many of our artists still have huge fanbases out there who consistantly want to know what happened to them.
Stacy Lattisaw was interesting. A chunky fair skinned girl with a big voice, when I watched some of her videos in the show she had the enthusiasm of a boiled egg. Her mother admits that Stacy didn’t really want a career in show business and while I somehow missed that during her heyday, the show makes that very apparent. She was doing it for her parents. Stacy mentions that she did not want to sell herself short by “having sex with this person and that person” so she quit. Ironically, when I asked a few people that knew of her back then, they have a different opinion of her. Who knows. Johnny Gill stars in the show as well as Stacy taking a tour of her old home in DC where it all started and her very first performances. Great show.
Rose Royce: I was not a big fan of the group and I despised the song “Car Wash.” To me, it was the epitomy of ghetto life. What the hell would black people want to sing about a damn car wash for, sh… make a record called Doctor’s Degree. But who am I, Norman Whitfield wrote a plethora of hits for the band which was considered mostly studio musicians with the addition of an unknown (star) girl from Florida who the group didn’t know. There was tension from the beginning as lead singer Gwen Dickey was told to change her name to a stage persona of the group name as “Rose” the men had an issue with that as they felt it wasn’t her group. Still Whitfield moved them into a mansion from South Central LA and Florida, he groomed them, bought them elaborate costumes and wrote all their hit songs. The group felt they didnt’ get paid enough and were at odds with Norman until the day he died. One of them even went to Whitfield’s dying hospital bed and asked him “Why didn’t you give me my money?” I knew Norman Whitfield and we have had some great conversations about music and I’m not sure if the group had a legitimate claim. I mean he wrote all their music, paid for their tours, moved them into his mansion and spared no expense for their success. Sure they should have been paid for tours but should they have been paid for performing Norman’s songs? One thing’s for sure, there were too many members. The group could have still been a huge success at half the size considering Gwen made most of the contribution to their success. It’s unfortunate that Gwen left on bad terms as she could have collaborated with Norman and had more hits. Once again, a can’t miss. More info about the shows below.
TV ONE UNVEILS FOUR NEW EPISODES OF ACCLAIMED ORIGINAL BIO SERIES “UNSUNG” BEGINNING MONDAY, MARCH 22 AT 9 PM ET
— Series that examines and celebrates talented artists who are under-appreciated will feature Stacy Lattisaw, Rose Royce, Sylvester and the Bar-Kays premiering one each week through April 12–
Feb. 9, 2010, Silver Spring, MD ““ Beginning Monday, March 22 at 9 PM ET, TV One brings back UnSung, its acclaimed, original series of one-hour biographies that celebrates the lives and careers of successful artists or groups who, despite great talent, over the years have been under-recognized or under-appreciated. Four all-new episodes of UnSung, TV One’s top-rated and most highly anticipated series, will chronicle the careers of:
- Rose Royce (premieres March 22) – Rose Royce emerged from South Central Los Angeles in the mid-1970s to become one of the top-selling groups of that decade. Nurtured by legendary Motown producer Norman Whitfield (Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, Gladys Knight), the group topped the charts with their first LP, a soundtrack for the movie “Car Wash” that sold three million copies and spawned such hits as “I Wanna Get Next to You,” “I’m Goin Down”, and of course, the mega-successful title track. With vocalist Gwen Dickey leading the way, this nine member ensemble combined classy pop stylings “” the name says it all”” with funky R&B riffs, a pop-funk blend that paved the way for Michael Jackson’s breakthrough at the end of the decade. But after three consecutive platinum albums and lasting hits like “Wishing on a Star” and “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore”, both of which have since been widely covered, Rose Royce succumbed to the too-frequent stresses of overnight success. Dickey, not yet 20 when she joined in 1975, was so burnt out and disillusioned that she left the group at its peak “” some band members say she was fired and refused to perform or record for years. As the group floundered, bassist Lequeint “Duke” Jobe, a musical phenom who was widely considered one of the top R&B bass players in the world, fell prey to drugs and wound up homeless and in jail. Despite it all, the core of Rose Royce has managed to stay together for 35 years, while Dickey has developed a successful solo career in the UK, where she has lived for the past two decades. Now they reveal their long, strange journey on UnSung.
- Sylvester (premieres March 29) – Sylvester James was the undisputed King and Queen of disco. He strived for fame, fortune and freedom during a time when it was highly unlikely for a large, openly gay, sometimes in drag, African American male to make it in the world of entertainment. But with a powerhouse falsetto voice to back him up, that’s exactly what Sylvester did. On this ground-breaking episode of UnSung, Sylvester’s family takes us to his childhood home and the church where it all began in Los Angeles. We visit his old neighborhood and the Palm Lane Church of God where he got his start singing and performing in the choir, becoming a gospel sensation around town. But it was also here where Sylvester would learn that being “˜different’ was both a challenge and an opportunity for someone with courage and personal flair. Moving to San Francisco, Sylvester began his rise to stardom performing with a theater troupe, which ultimately led to a recording contract. Gold albums, movie roles, and TV appearances followed. Then the glow faded as he endured the loss of close friends through the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s. Sylvester ultimately succumbed to the disease as well, while leaving a legacy of music, which embodied a generation’s determination to live their lives on their own terms. Now, through interviews with music colleagues such as Narada Michael Walden, The Pointer Sisters, Martha Wash and Jeanie Tracey, along with close family members and friends, UnSung chronicles a music career which reached heights that few expected, but in retrospect was fully earned.
- Stacy Lattisaw (premieres April 12) – She was a child star who was signed to a major label at the age of 12, and enjoyed a top ten hit a year later. Stacy Lattisaw was a charming teenager with the voice of a singer far beyond her years. She seemed to be living a dream, opening for and befriending Michael Jackson, and sharing songs and romance with another teenaged talent, Johnny Gill. But after a decade long career that produced thirteen albums and nearly two dozen charted singles like “Let Me Be Your Angel” and “Love on a Two-Way Street”, Stacy abruptly turned her back on the music business and walked away – even as her farewell single “Where Do We Go From Here?” – a reunion duet with Gill – topped the R&B charts. Fans and music industry types were stunned, but family and friends were not so surprised. They knew the price she had paid for a decade at the top of the music business and how she’d fulfilled everybody’s dreams… except her own. In this remarkably intimate portrait, Stacy Lattisaw reveals the drive and emotional forces that pushed her to stardom ““ and ultimately drove her away from popular music.
- Bar-Kays (premieres April 19) – First rising to prominence as a house band for the legendary Stax record label, the Bar-Kays have survived 40 years, 27 albums, 25 members, 23 hits, a tragic plane crash, a stroke, a murder and at least five major shifts in Black music. By consciously adapting their style to the trends of the day and constantly tuning their voice to the will of the streets, they’ve managed to make hits in every prevailing genre: R&B, Soul, Funk, Disco, Techno and even Hip Hop. Many band s had greater hits, but none have earned greater longevity. The miracle is that this band nearly ended before it began, when all but two members ““ Ben Cauley and James Alexand er – died in the plane crash that killed singing great Otis Redding. Yet those two members rebuilt the Bar-Kays into a remarkable hit machine ““ and never looked back ““ until this exclusive episode of Unsung.
The episodes will have a primetime encore Sunday nights at 8 PM and 11 PM (all times ET), as well as re-air Tuesdays at noon, Wednesdays at 3 AM, Thursdays at 5 PM, Fridays at 5 AM and Saturdays at noon. The new episodes, narrated by actor Gary Anthony Williams, are executive-produced by Arthur Smith, Kent Weed and Frank Sinton of A. Smith & Co. Productions. Mark Rowland is Co-Executive Producer. Executive in charge of production for TV One is Jubba Seyyid.
A. Smith & Co. originally produced for TV One four episodes of Unsung featuring DeBarge, Donny Hathaway, Phyllis Hyman and the Clark Sisters, which aired as a series of specials in fall 2008. The network ordered eight more that aired in 2009 that featured Minnie Riperton, Florence Ballard, Melba Moore, Shalamar, Teena Marie, Bootsy Collins, Klymaxx and Roger and Zapp. A. Smith is producing a total of 12 episodes for TV One in 2010, with the additional eight scheduled to air later this year.
“Unsung really resonates with our audience,” said TV One Senior Vice President of Original Programming Toni Judkins. “There are so many remarkable artists who have had incredible raw talent and amazing careers, but whose life circumstances have prevented them from attaining the iconic status they deserve and whose remarkable stories have never been told. We are delighted to be teaming up again with A. Smith to bring our viewers more of these incredible, real-life stories.”
Launched in January 2004, TV One (www.tvoneonline.com) serves nearly 49.9 million households, offering a broad range of lifestyle and entertainment-oriented original programming, classic series, movies, fashion and music designed to entertain, inform and inspire a diverse audience of adult African American viewers. TV One’s investors include Radio One [NASDAQ: ROIA and ROIAK; www.radio-one.com], the largest radio company that primarily targets African American and urban listeners; Comcast Corporation [NASDAQ: CMCSA and CMCSK; www.comcast.com], the leading cable television company in the country; The DirecTV Group; Constellation Ventures; Syndicated Communications; and Opportunity Capital Partners.