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New Season Of “Unsung” Kicks Off TV One’s Black Music Month With Otis Redding, Xscape

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via TV One
Special to the NNPA from The Atlanta Daily World

 

 

TV One’s award-winning series Unsung returns with an all-new season of hit-makers and game changers starting Wednesday, June 3rd at 8 p.m. ET. This season is filled with trailblazing artists who dominated the charts, pushed the boundaries of their genre, and inspired legions of fans with their legendary sound. Viewers will be able to reflect on the lives of innovative, soul-stirring singers of the ’60s and ’70s, including Ike Turner, Otis Redding, and the Godfather of Go-Go, Chuck Brown, as well as return to hip-hop’s golden age with Kid ‘n Play, DJ Quik, and Xscape. In a special episode, Unsung Revisited, viewers will receive an update on artists, including Full Force, Zapp & Roger, Sylvester, and Miki Howard, who following their features on the series, have experienced profound changes to their lives and legacy.

Wednesday, June 3, 8PM ET – Ike Turner

Ike Turner was the controversial musical genius credited with recording the first rock and roll song, as well as the creation of the Ike and Tina Turner Revue, a show like no other. They catapulted to fame with hits like “A Fool in Love,” “It’s Gonna Work Out Fine,” and their classic re-creation of “Proud Mary,” all while showcasing Tina Turner’s astonishing stage presence and unique tone. However, Ike was haunted by emotional traumas from his childhood, and his obsession to control ultimately destroyed his band, his marriage, his reputation, and his life.

Wednesday, June 10, 8PM ET – Otis Redding

From Georgia farm boy to singing legend, Otis Redding changed the face of soul music and left the world with one of the most popular songs in modern music, “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay.” Before that, he recorded and co-wrote over twenty top ten hits, including “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long,” “Can’t Turn You Loose,” and the anthem that ultimately became Aretha Franklin’s own signature song, “Respect.” His electrifying performances altered the entire trajectory of ’60s music. Then at the age of 26, Otis died in a plane crash while en route to a performance.

Wednesday, June 17, 8PM ET – DJ Quik

DJ Quik became one of hip-hop’s most legendary rapper/producers of the ’90s, with classics like “Tonite” and “Born and Raised in Compton,” which continue to get airplay today. This prolific producer has crafted hits for artists as varied as Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston, Shaquille O’Neal, andTony!Toni!Tone!. DJ Quik rose to great success despite surviving a life filled with hardships, including his days growing up in the notorious streets of Compton, to battling depression, serving jail time, and even putting his equipment on sale to retire from the hip-hop game. Today, the self-proclaimed “Americaz Most Complete Artist” continues to thrive on and off the stage.

Wednesday, June 24, 8PM ET – Chuck Brown and the Story of Go-Go

The undisputed Godfather of Go-Go music is the renowned Chuck Brown. Growing up in the impoverished nation’s capital, Brown found himself in prison for eight years after a murder conviction. He turned his life around and emerged as a guitarist and singer who helped craft a genre that blended the sounds of funk, blues, salsa, gospel, and soul into “the beat,” which is now known as Go-Go. Early pioneers like The Young Senators, Black Heat, and Trouble Funk developed a signature style that reflected Washington, D.C.’s African-American culture, while inspiring second generation bands like The Junk Yard Band, Rare Essence, and Experience Unlimited (aka E.U.).

Wednesday, July 1, 8PM ET – Unsung Revisited

In this unique episode, Unsung revisits four artists – Full Force, Zapp & Roger, Sylvester, and Miki Howard – to uncover how their lives have been affected by the award-winning series. The story of Sylvester, the legendary singer who died in 1988, was resurrected on Broadway thanks to a producer – alongside Sheryl Lee Ralph – who was moved by his Unsung profile. The Troutman family reveals how their dynamic changed after discussing the tragic deaths of Roger and Larry Troutman. Miki Howard depicts her new life as a jazz and R&B singer after her career was revitalized by her episode. And theGeorge brothers, Lou, B-Fine, and Paul Anthony, discuss the latest chapter in Paul’s courageous fight against the disease that nearly cost him his life, and the joyful album it inspired.

Wednesday, July 8, 8PM ET – Xscape

In 1993, Xscape rose to the top of the charts with three platinum albums that included number one hits “Just Kickin’ It,” “Understanding,” and “Who Can I Run To?” Composed of sisters LaTocha and Tamika Scott and classmates Kandi Burruss and Tameka “Tiny” Cottle, they formed a sisterhood as strong as their sound. As a group, Xscape frequently struggled for respect, as their raw talent took a backseat to the music industry’s emphasis on looks and glamour. By their third album, their sisterhood had imploded. Since their breakup in 1998, attempts to reunite the group have failed, with lingering bitterness and deep seeded anger playing out on public forums.

Wednesday, July 15, 8PM ET – Kid ‘n Play

Kid ‘n Play exploded on the rap scene in the late ’80s and redefined the game with their fun-loving party anthems like “2 Hype” and “Rolling with Kid ‘n Play.” Additionally, they established a look and style that crossed age and color lines. After starring in the cult classic hit film House Party, they became media sensations, appearing in TV commercials and their own Saturday morning cartoon. When their squeaky clean image lost favor to emerging hard-core rap artists, they found themselves on the outside of the business. The rise and fall of fame carried a sobering cost for their personal lives as well. Recently, the lifelong friends decided to reunite and bring the fun back to the party.

Unsung is narrated by actor Gary Anthony Williams and is executive produced by Arthur Smith,Kent Weed, and Frank Sinton of A. Smith & Co. Productions for TV One. Mark Rowland is Co-Executive Producer. Lamar Chase is Producer and Jubba Seyyid is Executive in Charge of Production for TV One. D’Angela Proctor is Head of Original Programming and Production for the network.

 

ABOUT TV ONE:

Launched in January 2004, TV One (www.tvone.tv) serves 57 million households, offering a broad range of real-life and entertainment-focused original programming, classic series, movies and music designed to entertain and inform a diverse audience of adult Black viewers. The network is the exclusive home ofNews One Now, the only live daily news program targeting Black viewers. In December 2008, the company launched TV One High Def, which now serves 14 million households. TV One is solely owned by Radio One [NASDAQ: ROIA and ROIAK, www.radio-one.com], the largest radio company that primarily targets Black and urban listeners.

More information about current and past seasons of Unsung is at TV One.

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Bay Area

Vice Mayor: Business Group Wants to Buy Coliseum, Attract WNBA Team

The group will provide additional details of its effort at a news conference at 11:00 a.m. Friday at a site to be determined.

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Oakland Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan.

Oakland Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan said a local business group has made serious inroads to buy the city’s 50% stake in the Oakland Coliseum complex and to bring a WNBA team to the city.
Kaplan’s office shared a news release Monday about the effort by the African American Sports and Entertainment Group.

Kaplan said the group is in negotiations with the Oakland-Alameda Joint Powers Authority, has submitted a formal proposal to WNBA officials, and has submitted a term sheet to the city, which the City Council’s rules committee recently voted to advance to the full council for a vote.

The group will provide additional details of its effort at a news conference at 11:00 a.m. Friday at a site to be determined.

“I am pleased that there is such great interest in doing an important development at the Oakland Coliseum that will provide jobs, revenue and community positivity,” Kaplan said. “My goal is to help this process move forward before the summer recess.”

Kaplan said the group has the backing of more than 30 community groups of faith-based institutions, labor organizations, civic leaders, and job development organizations. She did not name the groups

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Books

Marcus Books at 60, the Oldest Black Bookstore in the U.S.

You can check out the titles they have in stock by visiting https://www.marcusbooks.com/ The store is open Monday-Saturday from 10:00 a.m.- 6:00 p.m. and Sundays from 12:00-4:00 p.m.

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Image provided from Marcus Book Store Facebook page

Marcus Books is a Black-owned bookstore located at 3900 Martin Luther King Jr Way, Oakland, CA 94609. Named for United Negro Improvement leader and author Marcus Garvey, the store was founded by Tuskegee College graduates Julian and Rae Richardson in 1960. In the ensuing decades they have sold books produced by Black, independent publishers, authors, poets, and artists and hosted talks by a who’s who of Black writers ranging from the late Toni Morrison, to Michael Eric Dyson and Sistah Soldier. There is a substantial collection of books for children as well. Online shopping is also available. You can check out the titles they have in stock by visiting https://www.marcusbooks.com/ The store is open Monday-Saturday from 10:00 a.m.- 6:00 p.m. and Sundays from 12:00-4:00 p.m.

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Art

In Colorizing the Characters in ‘Hamilton,’ Playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda Whitewashes History

But he should also make sure we all know Hamilton was no hip-hop hero, just another founding slave holder. Miranda’s color change doesn’t change history, nor make it less distasteful.

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Photo of Lin-Manuel Miranda as Alexander Hamilton courtesy of cinemablend

Is there any doubt that Ishmael Reed is Oakland’s writer of conscience and consequence?

He was my teacher in graduate school at Washington University in St. Louis, MO. From him I learned a number of truisms about writing. Like, for me, when in doubt, put in the Filipinos. Don’t take them out!  Another one was career advice. The more money you make, the less you get to say. Conversely, the less you make, the more you get to say. And that brings me to the topic of this column.

Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator of “In the Heights,” opened the movie version of the musical last week. It’s a gushing hydrant of diversity. It should make a lot of money. But when I talked to him a few weeks back I wanted to talk about his other monster hit, “Hamilton,” where Miranda applied what I call a little affirmative action. He put the Black and the Brown actors in the white parts.

The Founding Fathers got “Hamiltoned.” Revolutionary?

“Well, it’s interesting,” he said. “The idea when I picked up the book was it’s an R&B hip-hop musical so, of course, Black and Brown actors would play those roles. As I’m reading the book the first time, I’m picturing which of my favorite hip-hop artists should play Hercules Mulligan or George Washington. They were always people of color, and the music reflects that…I was sort of more surprised that everyone was surprised when we finally came out.”

“I think it kicks open the door,” he added. “Why are we so literal when it comes to this stuff? And you know, I see Shakespeare with people of every ethnicity playing the roles. Why can’t that be the case with our founders? We know what they look like – they’re on our f***ing money. So, like, let’s move forward here. But I think once you see a show that has had the diversity that we have on stage, it’s very hard to go back to sort of these all-white productions because you’ve got to ask why, what stories aren’t we getting when you see that?”

You still have to ask what you’re getting. Miranda got comfortable enough to cuss and didn’t like the term “affirmative action.” But was he rehabbing Hamilton, making him and the others better than they were by applying the hip-hop beat?

It was the perfect opening to ask a question about Reed, the MacArthur ‘genius’ award-winning novelist, satirist, and playwright who last year wrote  “The Haunting of Lin-Manuel Miranda,” a play that takes Miranda to task for the failure to highlight the real history of Hamilton.

Hamilton and his in-laws, the Schuyler family, were slave owners.

Miranda may have given the actors some tone, but the historical soul remains the same. Just obscured. Reed sees Miranda as duped by the Hamilton biography by Ron Chernow, which Miranda used as the main source for his skin-deep musical that glosses over our racist founders.

“I think seducing thousands of children and even the inaugural poet Amanda Gorman into believing that Hamilton and the Schuyler girls were ‘ardent abolitionists,’ must rank as a cultural crime,” Reed said to me.

As I asked Miranda my question about Reed, the PR rep cuts in: “We are actually out of time.”

Then Miranda says, “I got a long schedule, sorry. Thank you.”

It would have been interesting to hear his answer, with “Hamilton” beginning a new tour in August.

But this is megabuck showbiz, and the PR juggernaut must go on.

So, Miranda wiggled his way out. He could have answered. I gave him a shot.

Then again, Miranda’s got this new property to sell that’s a lot more cleansing and joyful. “In the Heights” is the feel-good movie of the post-pandemic, you know. All the fire hydrants are gushing.

But he should also make sure we all know Hamilton was no hip-hop hero, just another founding slave holder. Miranda’s color change doesn’t change history, nor make it less distasteful.

In fact, the 2021 tour for “Hamilton” is coming to San Francisco, Sacramento and San Jose for multiple-week runs in August through October.

Will he come clean by then? Or come up with a new song? In the meantime, you should read Reed’s “The Haunting of Lin-Manuel Miranda.”  There’s no music to wash away the truth.

Emil Guillermo is a veteran Bay Area journalist and commentator. He vlogs at www.amok.com Twitter @emilamok

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