TV One Unsung Returns for Black Music Month Profiling Florence Ballard, Minnie Riperton, Melba Moore and Shalamar


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.

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7 Thoughts to “TV One Unsung Returns for Black Music Month Profiling Florence Ballard, Minnie Riperton, Melba Moore and Shalamar”

  1. The Bryson Legacy Continues with Deja Bryson

    Richmond, CA has birthed a new R&B phenomenon, Deja Bryson.With rich, soulful, smooth and full of passion vocals, creative and catchy writing & vocal arrangement skills, undeniable swag and an effortlessly alluring and captivating stage presence, it’s no surprise Deja now holds the torch for the bay.

    Niece of mega super star and musical icon, Peabo Bryson, Deja inherited a strong passion,drive, and talent to make great music. Deja began writing song lyrics and melodies, and at age 13, she enrolled in professional voice lessons and the very prestigious music program YMP (The Young Musicians Program) housed at UC Berkeley, Berkeley CA. This program was designed specifically to hone the skills of musical prodigies from low-income families. Deja continued YMP throughout high school, and was formally exposed to an array of music genres.Deja began a full pursuit of a career in music. When asked about her musical influences, Deja remarks, “Music is always a reaction to other music, to the times and era we live in, to our culture, to pleasure and pain. Artistically, I love the Isley’s, Marvin, of course Peabo, Donny,Chaka, Whitney, Aretha, Mary J., Usher and Jay-Z. These artists possess a miraculous quality that allows them to effortlessly connect to people. It’s evoked in every song and performance. It’s that special quality that pulled me in and enticed me to make music and move audiences.

    Déjà’s talent has been showcased at the “hot spot” music venues all over the Bay Area. She has performed for large corporate events, weddings, reunions and universities and has been an opening act for artists like Bilal, Dwelle, and Kindred Family Soul. She has performed at various NBA basketball games singing the national anthem, and was a feature artist at one of the inaugural balls in Washington D.C. Deja plans to launch her first tour, Empowerment for Change tour, in June, 2009.

    She is a talented, beautiful, and sophisticated yet refreshingly humble and down-to-earth musical genius, who will in every way desirable introduce you to a new brand of artistry, with heavy bass and drum driven classic R&B music, creative writing & arrangement, and an amazingly dynamic, versatile and beautiful voice. Get ready for the Bay Area’s own, Deja Bryson. For more information please contact:

    Linda Townsend
    Personal Manager/Booking
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  2. Angela Adams

    I would love to see the story and works of Gil-Scot Heron on TV One Unsung.

  3. ROBERT OLSZEWSKI

    THE MINNIE RIPERTON UNSUNG EPISODE WAS FASCINATING. I’M LOOKING
    FORWARD TO LISTENING TO THE ROTARY CONNECTION AND ALSO, MORE
    UNSUNG EPISODES.

    ONE OF MY FAVORITE UNSUNG HEROES WOULD BE BOBBY BLUE BLAND.
    AND PERHAPS A FEW 50’S ARTISTS LIKE HANK BALLARD OR LITTLE WILLIE
    JOHN.

  4. Stynk

    I love this show. I thinking they do a great job of selecting promising acts. I would love to see more groups like SOS Band, Lakeside and Loose Ends.

  5. Sandra

    I would love to see Brass Construction on to see what happen to them

  6. donnab

    I can’t say enough about just how amazing Unsung is for me. God Bless You Guys for this brilliant idea. I watch these shows religiously. And now, whenever I hear a song on the radio of one of these featured artist, I listen more intently. Learning of their “journey” has given me a greater appreciation and adoration of their work. …thanks a million for your labor of love and intense research into the lives of those who may no longer be in the limelight, but still hold an extremely impressionable place in our hearts!!!

  7. WANNETA NEWTSOM

    I think that Unsung is one of the most inspiring and informative programs to air television networks in some time. I am a proud African American woman who celebrates the heritage and the culture of those who have blazed trails and set bars for so many of the artists that enjoy success today. Bravo to the show’s insightful creative minds. While I have enjoyed and been enlightened by all of the artists highlighted thus far, I hope in furture spotlights to learn more about artists such a Mothers Finest, Denise Williams, The Emotions, and Evelyn King, to name a few. Again thanks for further encouraging me to celebrate and the applaud the groundbreaking efforts of African American artists.

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