In celebration of Black Music Month, TV One will premiere each Sunday in June four new episodes of 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. Everyone recognizes the name of Aretha, Whitney, Diana, Stevie, and Marvin. But the full picture of black music in America is much larger than those acknowledged superstars, and many of the greatest have failed to achieve that same level of superstardom.
Narrated by actor Gary Anthony Williams, Unsung will chronicle the careers of:
- Minnie Riperton – Best known for mega-hits Back Down Memory Lane and Lovin’ You, this sultry siren’s career and life were cut short after a three- year battle with breast cancer in the 1970s when she was only 31 years old. Classically trained in opera at Chicago’s Lincoln Center, she had a vocal range of nearly six octaves and before her mega-hit had forged a successful career singing and composing with the ground breaking ‘60s pop group Rotary Connection. After her cancer diagnosis, she went public instead of retreating, serving as the first African American spokesperson for the American Cancer Society. Premieres Sunday, June 7 at 8 PM ET, repeating at 11 PM, as well as Thursday, June 11 at 10 PM and Friday, June 12 at noon and midnight.
- Melba Moore – A tremendously versatile talent, she was a Tony Award-winning actress in her 20s, and a Grammy-nominated R&B recording artist in her 30s, and it seemed her career ascent was limitless until a series of devastating personal and financial setbacks knocked her out of the spotlight in the late 1980s. But Moore fought her way back and now devotes her talent to recording as a gospel artist, and even turned the dramatic details of her life into a successful one person show. Premieres Sunday, June 14 at 8 PM ET, repeating at 11 PM, as well as Thursday, June 18 at 10 PM, and Friday, June 19 at noon and midnight.
- Shalamar – This trio was originally a disco-driven vehicle created by Soul Train booking agent Dick Griffey. With hits like The Second Time Around and A Night to Remember, this group, most famous with vocalists Jody Watley, Jeffrey Daniel and Howard Hewett, was destined for long-term success, but constant member changes and the hugely successful launch of solo careers for two of the group’s members took its toll on the group’s long-term viability. Premieres Sunday, June 21 at 8 PM ET, repeating at 11 PM, as well as Thursday, June 25 at 10 PM, and Friday, June 26 at noon and midnight.
- Florence Ballard – The co-founder and shared lead singer of the Supremes was replaced as lead singer by Diana Ross when Berry Gordy decided that Ross’ voice could help the group cross over and appeal to white audiences. She never recovered from that decision, and Gordy dismissed her from the group in 1967. It took years before she recovered emotionally, and she spent much of her last years in poverty, dying a tragic death from a coronary thrombosis at age 32. Although the award-winning theater presentation of Dreamgirls and the critically acclaimed film are reportedly based on the life of Florence Ballard, Unsung finally tells her real story through the recollections of family and friends. Premieres Sunday, June 28 at 8 PM, repeating at 11 PM, as well as Thursday, July 2 at 10 PM and Friday, July 3 at noon and midnight.
The episodes 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.