UNSUNG is along the same line as Soul Train in the sense that a MUCH NEEDED and much deserved series dedicated to the amazing accomplishments of black music would absolutely never get the exposure it deserves if it were not for a show like this. Hard to believe that Soul Train premiered 40 years ago and 40 years later there is STILL a lack of diversified black programming on the networks. While I may not agree with everything Radio One does, Cathy Hughes and Alfred Liggins get a HUGE thumbs up for TV One. I have no doubt this network has amazing potential starting with their biggest hit show UNSUNG. I cannot tell you how many emails we get about the show and how much people love the show and the reviews that we do. I was not aware that Al B Sure was the original voice over person for the first season of UNSUNG. Not sure if you will agree on our favorites .. but s we thought there are the 10 Best Ones so far… Here goes…
What made this episode so great was how it was produced just a few months after her death. The producers and writers managed to make the episode a celebration of her career instead of a morose tribute to all that she did not achieve. It’s was evident that she was in very high spirits about the episode and the last thing on her mind was that she would not be around to see the show premiere. Just let’s you know that life truly is short.
2. Teena Marie (with Rick James)
Once again a great show, Rick James has already passed when the episode aired but who knew Teena would join him. I don’t think I have ever seen a tribute to her career like UNSUNG anywhere else and I was glad to see her get her just due.
I know this show JUST aired recently but it was the most upbeat. Millie doesn’t talk about her son a lot and he makes a very fast cameo appearance and it appears their relationship is strained but she seems incredibly content and satisfied. Out of all the shows she exudes the least bitterness and frustration about the past. She appears very at ease with everything she’s done and she appears to be perfectly fine with it.
This show was great because it chronicled Womack’s amazing music industry past. The greatest thing about his career was he knew how to reinvent himself. Had it not been for his writing he could have very easily fallen to the wayside as a singer after the Sam Cooke controversy but he bounced back.
This show was great because it showed how talent is not always the final frontier, the right material, the right label and the right producers play a HUGE part in an artist’s success. Hyman seemed to spend a lot of her career on the wrong labels and with the wrong people directing her career and it greatly frustrated her. She still managed to have several hits but not without losing a lot of time in the process between the hits.
This show was great for its honesty. Billy’s entire career was based on a big hidden secret that he was never able to resolve. How incredibly unfortunate, that though all of his success, hit records and major appearances with huge rock and roll bands he harbored such low self esteem. To the industry is was no secret that he was gay but he managed to keep it under wraps and suspicion from fans for almost his entire career. His drug addiction at such a late stage in life speaks volumes about the black community’s refusal to deal with mental illness, addiction and depression.
On the other end of the Billy Preston spectrum was Sylvester, an openly gay man who refused to cow tow to conservative urban radio programmers who in turn refused to support his music. Since he had a huge gay following he still manged to place high on the dance charts. It was stated that Don Cornelius refused to have Sylvester on Soul Train but Dick Clark did. Sylvester hit the scene at a time when androgyny was huge with Boy George, Grace Jones, Annie Lennox, Dead or Alive and even Prince came along around the same time. The black radio industry was not ready for Sylvester and there has been nobody like him since.
I remember being a kid and looking at their album covers and thinking there were WAY too many people in that group.. and the one woman, Gwen Dickey, did all the early singing. Almost anyone could see that group was going to have problems splitting the money and that’s exactly what happened. It was very interesting to see Gwen, now living in Europe for years talking about her experience with the group as a last minute placement that producer Norman Whitfield found to round out the ensemble.
While I enjoyed the show, I believe it aired before the father died and I wish they would have finally addressed the much rumored sexual abuse but perhaps they were not ready to talk about it. Considering so many of them had drug problems it is evident that something went horrifically wrong with their upbringing. I could not help but to think how hard it must have been to leave Detroit become huge stars and end up moving back in worse condition then when they left. They should have been much bigger stars but the past seemed to catch up to them and haunt them.
The show on Donny was great because they talked about his mental illness. Even though he was amazingly talented he struggled with his illness at a time when there were very few treatment options finally committing suicide to relieve himself. The show was very dark and somewhat depressing but extremely informative.