December 5, 2011 at 10:58 pm #377519
Hey Guys. The new artist to be featured on “Unsung” has been released. Below are the artist and the dates on which thier episodes will air. Please feel free to comment on the selections.
Vesta Williams (January 2) – With one of the biggest, brassiest voices in R&B and contemporary jazz, along with a four-octave range, Vesta Williams charged through the 80s from an A-list backup singer, who recorded with the likes of Gladys Knight, Anita Baker, and Sting, to a hit-making diva. Her 1986 debut album included two top ten singles, “Once Bitten, Twice Shy” and “Don’t Blow a Good Thing,” while her follow-up produced the classic, “Congratulations.” But Vesta’s surging stardom overwhelmed her, and she comforted herself with drugs and food. Her weight ballooned, she was dropped by major labels, and her career seemed over. But Vesta vowed to clean up her act. She quit drugs, lost over 100 pounds, and kept her musical chops limber while working with artists like George Duke, Howard Hewitt and Lee Ritenour. Though she continued to rely sporadically on pain-killers and sleep medication, she was determined to survive. In 2011, as she completed the definitive profile of her life for “Unsung”, Vesta Williams was back in high spirits, optimistic that this filmed portrait would help re-ignite her career. Then on September 22, 2011, she suddenly died in her sleep, at age 53. This is her story.
Bobby Womack (January 9) – He’s been called the Poet, the Preacher, and the last Soul Man. By whatever name, there’s never been anyone quite like Bobby Womack, who has lived an eventful life that mirrors the painful dramas of his classic songs. He grew up as the middle child among the talented Womack brothers, later re-named the Valentinos, where they forged success as a pop group under the tutelage of soul icon Sam Cooke. Bobby became Cooke’s protégé, a guitar-playing and songwriting prodigy who penned his first number one hit, ‘It’s All over Now’, as a teenager. But his budding career took a wild turn when, within months of Cooke’s shocking murder in 1964, the 21-year-old married Sam’s widow, Barbara. He became a pariah among former fans, a target for violence by Cooke’s brothers, and was all but banned from the record industry. But talent persevered, and Womack emerged in the ’70s and ’80s as a singer-songwriter of uncommon range, penning soulful standards, from ‘That’s the Way I feel about Cha’ to ‘Across 100th Street,’ to ‘If You think You’re Lonely Now.’ Then an astonishing string of tragedies, including the death of Bobby’s brother Harry, and the loss of two of his sons, sent his life and career into a tailspin. Now, after five decades of making music, he’s a storied survivor, who tells it all – as only he can – in this riveting episode of ‘Unsung.’
Atlantic Starr (January 16) – Atlantic Starr made their mark with slow grooves like “Secret Lovers” and the wedding classic “Always”. But the band had its roots as a close-knit group of nine friends and family members, hailing from a small town in upstate New York, who were devoted to fun and to funk. With help from Commodores producer James Anthony Carmichael, and songs written by group members David and Wayne Lewis, they shot to stardom with “When Love Calls” and “Circles” – both featuring singer Sharon Bryant. But the band’s sheer size, and the fight for control within it, led to conflicts which ultimately split the group in two. Bryant was replaced by Barbara Weathers, after which Atlantic Starr achieved its greatest success with “Always.” But more personality conflicts spurred Weathers to quit the band, leading to a steady march of replacement singers, and ultimately, to the departure of key songwriter David Lewis himself. In this episode of ‘Unsung’, members of Atlantic Starr, past and present, come together for the first time to discuss candidly the rise and fall of a group whose bonds of friendship frayed in the crucible of making music.
Freddie Jackson (January 23) – Freddie Jackson’s soulful ballads are the stuff of velvet sheets, intimate encounters and rose petaled Jacuzzis. With nine number one hits, including ‘Rock Me Tonight (For Old Times Sake)’ and ‘You Are My Lady’, Freddie gave voice to sentiments men often struggled to communicate, and women longed to hear. But super-stardom wasn’t all strawberries and whipped cream. Struggling with his weight since childhood, Freddie found his persona at odds with his ballooning figure, while whispers questioning his sexuality swirled amongst fans. Through the 1980s, Freddie helped catapult the Hush productions sound to the R&B forefront – but when the hits ran out, he found himself facing financial ruin. In this revealing episode of ‘Unsung’, Freddie and his closest collaborators, including Melba Moore and M’lissa Morgan, chart his popular success and his personal struggles.
Full Force (January 30) – Few musical artists can boast a career as wide-ranging, influential and yet truly ‘unsung’ as Brooklyn’s Full Force. For more than three decades the pioneering three brother, three cousin collective have broken ground as writers, producers and performers. They’ve helped launch the careers of pop stars as diverse as Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam, the Backstreet Boys and Cheryl Pepsii Riley, while reviving the career of the Godfather himself, James Brown. They gained cult status after portraying hilarious bullies in the classic comedy “House Party”, by playing up their buffed out & Jheri curled image, and rocked the dance floor with irresistible jams like ‘Ain’t My Type of Hype’ and ‘Alice, I Want You Just For Me!’ But behind the scenes, the band members have battled career ups and downs, along with health issues that have imperiled one member’s survival. On this remarkable episode of Unsung’, one of popular music’s most prolific musical families gets busy one more time.
Millie Jackson (February 6) – Millie Jackson’s voice was enough to make her an R&B singing star, but it was what she said between songs – and how she said it – that made her famous. Tackling topics previously considered taboo, and with unrivaled comic timing, Millie spoke to a generation of young black women who didn’t often hear themselves represented on TV or on the radio. Years later, her place in music history grew when the first wave of female hip-hop stars anointed her the Godmother of Rap. From renegade to pioneer, Millie made her mark. Now, along with testimony from some of the artists she’s influenced, including Roxanne Chante’ and Da Brat, Millie Jackson tells her story to ‘Unsung’ – and needless to say, she doesn’t mince words.
Ray Parker, Jr. (February 13) – Whether singing, playing guitar, or crafting smooth-sailing hits like ‘Jack and Jill, ‘The Other Woman’ or ‘You Can’t Change That’, Ray Parker Jr. made success look easy. But behind the show-biz façade, Parker was an obsessive musician – a guitarist who’d cut his teeth with Motown’s house band, the Funk brothers, as a teenager, and later played with Stevie Wonder and Barry White. Long before his emergence as a headliner, he’d written hits for White and Chaka Khan, while crafting a Grammy winning single for Leo Sayer – ‘You Make Me Feel Like Dancing’ – for which he never received credit, a hard lesson in business that drove him to contemplate suicide. All of which was just a prelude to Parker’s own Grammy winning triumph with ‘Ghostbusters’ – and the controversy which followed, in which he stood accused of plagiarizing someone else’s hit. A double-dose of baby mama drama, family loss, and an ill-advised decision to leave his safe haven at Arista Records accelerated his descent from the top of the charts. But Ray Parker proved unsinkable, and along with testimony from his extended musical family – including Cheryl Lynn, Chaka Khan and Clive Davis – he tells ‘Unsung’ the tale of his still-unfolding journey.
Sheila E. (and the E. family) (February 20) – While the Jacksons, Sylvers and Debarge define family singing groups, the Escovedos are something else: a family that learned how to stay together by playing together. Even before Sheila E. garnered international celebrity for 80′s mega hits “The Glamorous Life” and “A Love Bizarre,” her father, brothers and extended family were acclaimed musicians, with associations ranging from Santana to Tito Puente, Lionel Richie, Jennifer Lopez, Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye. Of course, Sheila remains the family’s shining star, whose partnership with Prince on songs like ‘A Love Bizarre’ and ‘Erotic City’ produced plenty of heat on stage and off. But her rise to the top as a lovely Latina with serious musical chops came with a cost, including serious health issues, and a childhood trauma which would shadow her direction in decades to come. On this episode of ‘Unsung’, Sheila, her father, and her talented siblings come together to trace the remarkable journey of Oakland’s musical first family.
David Ruffin (February 27) – The raspy and anguished lead voice on mega-hits “My Girl,” “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” and “I Know (I’m Losing You),” David Ruffin was the center of The Temptations in their peak years. But his expanding ego forced his bandmates to cut ties with him in 1968. And with only one significant solo hit, “My Whole World Ended,” Ruffin never again reached the heights he’d enjoyed as the swoon-inducing leader of The Tempts. In private life, David was a talented, self-tortured soul, capable of kindness and generosity along with untempered anger. But drug abuse wore him down in the ’70s and ’80s, costing him precious opportunities to reunite with friends and former bandmates, and damaging his relationships with those closest to his heart. Less than two years after joining The Temptations onstage for their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, he was found dead from an apparent drug overdose at the age 50. Now, his family, friends and musical associates come together to help ‘Unsung’ portray the tumultuous life and career of a legendary singer.
Whodini (March 5) – With a string of up-tempo, R&B inflected hits in the mid to late 1980′s, the New York bred rap trio of Jalil Hutchins, John Fletcher (aka Ecstasy) and Drew Carter (aka Grandmaster Dee) dominated the Billboard charts to become one of rap’s first superstars. Along with Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five, LL Cool J, RUN-DMC & The Fat Boys, they helped define hip hop’s ‘golden age’ with platinum success. And with hits like “Friends,” “Big Mouth” & “Five Minutes of Funk,” Whodini mastered a difficult magic trick by making danceable music that was reflective and thoughtful. But along with the perks of success, Whodini battled drug addictions, squabbles over money and clashing egos, which ultimately caused the group to break up. Yet the group never completely lost sight of their earlier ambitions, reuniting after realizing they were stronger together than apart. For ‘Unsung’, Whodini’s members tell the story of a fun-loving, trailblazing brotherhood who have survived 3 decades of wild ups and downs.December 6, 2011 at 9:50 pm #377521
This is a good lineup! Should be some good stories.December 12, 2011 at 9:23 am #377522
This is a good lineup! Should be some good stories.
I definitely agree.January 31, 2012 at 7:12 am #377523
Wow Unsung has been really good so far.
Atlantic Starr was good man did they change women singers enough ?
Full Force really suprised me I didn’t know they did soooo much behind the scenes writing/producing for big artists.January 31, 2012 at 7:40 am #377524
I’ve been liking this season so far.
Vesta Williams- I was familiar with her, but after watching her episode I became a fan. She had a wonderful personality and man could she sing. During her interviews I was getting Chaka Khan vibes from her especially when she would fan herself. Come to find out she used to sing backup for Ms. Khan lol.
Bobby Womack- Another great episode. I kinda wished that his episode was more than an hour. Bobby went through hell and back literally and to see him still here to tell his story was nothing short of amazing.
Atlantic Starr- I loved a few of their songs, I was surprise to see how many female singers they went through.
Freddie Jackson- I forgot how big of an artist he was in the 80s. Sad to see another story where someone being nice screwed them over. I loved how he pretty much doged around him being gay lol.
Full Force- Great episode. I love that this one didn’t have the usual family drama and bitterness that many of the other group episodes had. I never knew they wrote Backstreet Boys “All I Have to Give”. I love that song for a reason lol.
January 31, 2012 at 8:21 am #377525
Vesta had me cracking up! I bet she was a trip to hang around! I STILL love that McDonalds commercial with her and Al Jarreau!
Bobby Womack I KNEW his story would have some turbulence. He and Sam Cooke’s wife? Glad to see he made it through the storms and is still singing. Use to love his duets with Patti Labelle.
Yeah Freddie Jackson made some good music. I forgot about alot of the songs they mentioned.
Atlantic Starr I KNEW Barbara Weathers hooked up with one of the guys but wasn’t sure which one. They had some good joints back in the day too!
Full Force this was more upbeat episode and wow the many people that gave interviews for them too. My only disappointment was no discussion about the CLASSIC “All Cried Out” with Lisa Lisa. I mean Really?January 31, 2012 at 11:17 am #377526
MsErica, I know that Millie Jackson “unsung” is going to be a hot mess lol.January 31, 2012 at 7:24 pm #377527
I bet it will be Try Again lol! The preview looked good!February 1, 2012 at 2:34 am #377528
I just found out that Vesta Williams died like two weeks ago.March 1, 2012 at 7:09 pm #377529
Try Again, Millie Jackson’s episode DELIVERED and THEN SOME! I was laughing so hard!
Evelyn Champagne King’s episode was pretty good. I pretty much already knew her story from some interviews.
Sheila E was interesting as well. Glad she and Prince still have a good working relationship I know he brings her out with him at concerts sometimes. She’s an excellent musician. Glad she continues to book big gigs like the Oscars and others.
David Ruffin aught to be good MondayMarch 2, 2012 at 10:37 am #377530
This season has been great so far. I can’t believe Full Force wrote all of those songs for pop artists. My sisters used to listen to Sheila E a lot when I was young and we always loved the fact that she’s a woma that can play the mess out of a percussion!
Freddie Jackson’s career should have lasted longer.May 21, 2012 at 7:22 pm #377531
Here’s the summer line-up for “Unsung”
New Episodes: Line-Up
Tune in Mondays at 9PM ET starting June 25 for all new episodes.
From Sly & the Family Stone to Lou Rawls, UnSung will not disappoint and promises to explore some of the biggest names in the music business while uncovering their rise to fame.
Find out first hand the personal triumphs and struggles of today’s legends. Catch all new episodes, starting June 25 at 9PM ET.
TELL US: Who do you think is missing from the line-up? Who is Unsung?
This season’s star-studded line up includes;
Con Funk Shun
With five gold albums and sixteen top forty singles, Con Funk Shun strode across the funk and R&B scene like a colossus for more than a decade. From their roots as high-school friends in Vallejo, California, they honed their chops at Stax records in Memphis, while developing an irrepressibly danceable sound. With hits like “Ffun,” “Shake & Dance With Me,” “Chase Me,” and “Love’s Train,” the group performed in sold-out arenas around the country, while showing off lavish outfits and tightly choreographed moves. But after 17 years together, a succession of personal conflicts caused the band to fall apart. And a decade later, one their founding members was killed in circumstances at once mysterious and chilling. For this episode, the remaining original members, along with family and friends, gather for the first time to tell the story of a truly ‘Unsung’ band. Just when you thought your favorite artist was long forgotten, think again!
In 1961, five teen-age girls from the sleepy Detroit suburb of Inkster, Michigan, took a meteoric rise to fame that would revolutionize Motown, while creating a catalog of popular songs that endure to this day. Plucked from the obscurity of a high school talent show, they were signed on the strength of an original song titled “Please Mr. Postman.” Within months, the song became Motown’s first number one pop single. But despite an impressive array of follow-up hits like “Beechwood 4-5789,” “Too Many Fish in the Sea,” and the Smokey Robinson-penned classics “Don’t Mess with Bill,” and “The Hunter Gets Captured by the Game” The Marvelettes remained strangely anonymous, never achieving the stature of rival acts like Martha and the Vandellas, or the Supremes. And in the space of a few short years, a stunning series of misfortunes and personal tragedies put an end to the group for good. Now, ‘Unsung’ brings their full story to life, thanks to testimony from all of the surviving members, while shining a light on the music and legacy of one of the great singing groups of all time.
With a gorgeous voice and five octave range, exotic beauty and an intoxicating stage presence, Angela Bofill took the music world by storm. A native New Yorker who grew up in Harlem and the Bronx, she was a trained musician and sophisticated singer who invested ballads like ‘This Time I’ll be Sweeter,’ and her ode to heartbreak, “I Try” with palpable emotion. She could belt out hot dance numbers like ‘Too Tough’, and gospel-inflected inspirational hymns like “I’m on your Side’ with equal aplomb. But after a run of hits in the 1980s, she faded rapidly from view, as record labels trained their sights on a younger generation of video vixens. Bofill soldiered on for two decades, only to be literally silenced by two devastating strokes. Yet she refused to give up her dream, and is gradually returning to the stage, while sharing her inspirational life’s story with hard earned wit and wisdom, on this episode of ‘Unsung.”
Sly & the Family Stone
Among the most influential groups in the history of popular music, Sly & The Family Stone fused funk, soul, rock, and r&b to create a sound that resonated well beyond the charts. Led by the brilliant and charismatic Sly Stone, it was a sound that by turns reflected the idealism of the sixties, and the fracturing of those ideals in the decade that followed. The band’s performance at the Woodstock festival in 1969 showed a group at the height of their powers, while suggesting a future of unlimited musical possibilities. But even while crafting great music, the group gradually disintegrated, torn apart by drugs, personality clashes, and the glare of the public spotlight. Sly Stone himself became deeply reclusive, his recordings increasingly sporadic, while refusing to grant interviews for decades. On this ground-breaking episode of ‘Unsung’, Sly Stone emerges to tell that tale, with the help of bandmates and family members – a unique and remarkable musical journey that, after four decades, is still unfolding.
Kool Moe Dee
Kool Moe Dee is best remembered for his ever-present hats and shades, but it’s his resistance to hip-hop cliches which fortify his legacy. Anti-drugs and alcohol and pro-education, Moe was always willing to represent bold views in his music and in interviews. He demonstrated his lyrical complexity as a teen, when as a member of the groundbreaking Treacherous Three he created a new, fast-paced style of rhyming that was ultimately emulated by rap superstars like Twista and Busta Rhymes. As a solo artist, he ruled the charts and the clubs with hits like ‘Wild, Wild West’ and ‘I Go to Work’ –while taking on longtime rival LL Cool J with ‘How Ya Like Me Now.’ On this remarkably revealing episode of “Unsung”, and with help from friends and admirers including Doug E. Fresh, Melle Mel, and Teddy Riley, Kool Moe Dee tells his story, as only he can.
Crowned by fans as ‘the last soul singer,’ Gerald Levert was one of the preeminent forces of ‘80’s and 90’s r&b. He took his pedigree from his father, Eddie Levert, of the mighty O’Jays, and while still a teenager, formed his own singing group, LeVert , with Marc Gordon and his younger brother Sean, that dominated the charts. Thanks to infectious hits like “Casanova” and “(Pop Pop Pop Pop ) Goes My Mind,” LeVert scored four straight gold records and five chart-topping singles; from there Gerald launched a formidable solo career, including a duet with his father, “Baby Hold on to Me,” which also hit number one. But Gerald could never find contentment in his many achievements, and remained driven to top himself throughout his career – a journey which ended tragically with his untimely death at the age of forty. Now, family, friends and musical admirers come together for this special portrait of a modern ‘Unsung’ legend.
Lou Rawls was a singer’s singer, with a vocal style Frank Sinatra called ‘the silkiest chops in the singing game.’ He commanded the stage, and scored hits with songs that ranged from blues to jazz to uptown R&b, in the course of a magisterial ecording career that spanned five decades. A definitive ‘crossover’ artist long before the term was coined, he was at home before crowds in Las Vegas and on the couches of network tv talk shows, while his pioneering work for the United Negro College Fund created a legacy far beyond music. But the man behind that smooth-singing persona was a more complicated figure – an abandoned child whose scars never healed, and whose unpredictable explosions of anger and violence were often directed toward those he loved best. In this ground-breaking episode of ‘Unsung’, friends, family, and musical collaborators – including fellow legends Della Reese, and Gamble & Huff – come together to craft a portrait of a singer whose music transcended category, and a man whose true personality was wrapped in layers of mystery.
Rarely has a group risen so high and fallen so fast as Arrested Development. This captivating musical collective stormed to the top of the charts with an exhilarating brand of countrified rap that mixed the spirit of Sly and the Family Stone with the political charge of Public Enemy, providing a positive alternative to more confrontational gangsta stylings. Their debut album 3 Years, 5 Months and 2 Days in the Life Of, which chronicled the time it took the group to get a record deal, sold four million copies and sparked three top ten hits– “Tennessee,” ‘Mr. Wendal” and “People Everyday”. It also won two Grammys, including the coveted Best New Artist award in 1993, the first time hip-hop had ever taken that prize. And then it all abruptly fell apart, as internal feuding over control, direction and money belied the group’s idealistic vibe. By the time Arrested Development began work on their second album, they had split into two camps and were communicating with each other through agents and managers. After just 2 albums of original material, Arrested Development called it quits. Now mostly reunited, the members of this pioneering band reveal the full story of a group who flew high, fell far, and survived to tell the tale.
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