TV One’s acclaimed original bio series “Unsung” returns Sept. 13 with features on Teddy Pendergrass, Tammi Terrell, Heatwave, George Clinton, The O’Jays, Angela Winbush, The Fat Boys, Musical Youth and Miki Howard, airing each week through Nov 8.
More details about each episode are listed below…
Teddy Pendergrass (Premiere episode, Sept. 13) – In March of 1982, Teddy Pendergrass was arguably the most popular black recording artist in the world, and the first artist of any color to achieve five consecutive multi-platinum albums. He’d shot to stardom as the singer for Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, putting his stamp on Gamble & Huff classics like “If You Don’t Know Me By Now,” then elevating to even greater success on his own, to become an icon of romantic balladry, and a role model for seductive male singers that remains a defining image to this day. But a tragic car accident left Teddy paralyzed from the neck down, robbing him of the sexual appeal that had made his “ladies only” concerts so popular, and forever changing the character of his music, and his life. On this exclusive episode of Unsung Teddy’s friends, his wife and children, his musical peers and closest associates, and will tell how that accident changed Teddy from a vain, sexually charged seducer to a generous and thoughtful romantic.
Tammi Terrell (Sept. 20) – She had a record deal by the time she was 14. She was a featured vocalist with James Brown at 17. Berry Gordy signed her to Motown Records 3 years later. And in 1967 Tammi Terrell teamed up with Marvin Gaye to record a series of classic romantic hits – ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’, ‘Your Precious Love’, ‘Ain’t Nothin Like The Real Thing’, and more – that remain the gold standard for romantic duets. Ironically, Tammi’s actual love life was not nearly as perfect as the romance in her songs, and included abusive relationships with both James Brown and David Ruffin. And the magic of her career ended abruptly when she collapsed on stage from a brain tumor while singing with Marvin in the fall of 1967. But she refused to give in to her fate. Tammi underwent 8 surgeries over the next three years, and even returned to recording, before she died in 1974 at the age of 24. Her life was short, but full of passion, art, and courage, that will finally be told in its fullness on Unsung.
Heatwave (Sept. 27) – In the late 1970s, when disco, funk, and soulful ballads ruled the dance floors, few bands could match Heatwave’s range and originality. From the disco anthem “Boogie Nights” to the sweet and soft “Always and Forever,” Heatwave combined driving dance rhythms with creamy melodies to create a lasting sound and legacy. Their unique approach was in part the result of a remarkably international makeup: led by brothers Johnnie Jr. Wilder and Keith Wilder, straight out of Dayton, Ohio, Heatwave also included a keyboardist from England, a drummer who’d fled from Czechoslovakia, a bassist from Spain, and a guitarist with Jamaican roots. The group’s keyboardist, Rod Temperton, not only wrote most of their material, but eventually became the songwriter behind some of Michael Jackson’s greatest hits (including the songs “Off the Wall”, “Rock with You,’ and “Thriller”). Heatwave should have been the next “Earth Wind & Fire” – but a series of violent and horrific tragedies, including a gunshot murder and a car accident that left Johnnie Wilder paralyzed from the neck down, kept them from reaching their full measure of stardom. This is the redemptive story of gifted musicians, who despite their backgrounds, cultures, and crushing heartbreaks, came together to create an unforgettable sound that continues to get everyone up and dancing.
George Clinton (Oct. 4) – In the intergalactic continuum of funk, the name best known by earth people and aliens alike is the Atomic Dog and Mothership Captain himself, George Clinton. Emerging from the most distant region in the galaxy (a home he calls Dog Star 9), this interplanetary traveler chose music as his language to communicate a message of love, respect and dance-floor artistry to earthlings the world round. His extraterrestrial brew of rock, soul, Motown and doo-wop made for a potent funk brew that became the recipe for two beloved 70′s groups – Funkadelic and Parliament – both of which he helmed, and populated with musicians who would themselves become some of the brightest stars in the 70′s and 80′s, including Maceo Parker and Bootsy Collins. Clinton’s own star blazed ever more brightly through the 80′s, when hits such as ‘Loopzilla’ and ‘Atomic Dog’ shook dance floors in all quadrants of the known universe. An entire generation of rappers grew up with his music, and in turn, made his beats and grooves the DNA of Hip Hop. But bad business deals hounded Clinton from the outset, and with finances further diminished by a proclivity for mind altering chemicals, his earthly empire crumbled, leaving him all but destitute today. On this exclusive episode of Unsung, George Clinton reveals the story of his long strange ride.
Angela Winbush (Oct. 11) – When Angela Winbush came on the scene in the 1980s, she brought not only a powerful sultry voice infused with gospel roots, but also a versatile self-contained songwriting and producing talent at a time when few females, and even fewer African American females, were producing records at all. As one-half of Rene & Angela, and as a solo artist, she sold over ten million albums and singles worldwide. With a multi-octave voice heavily rooted in the church, this former member of Stevie Wonder’s band Wonderlove developed a strong desire to control the creativity of her music, and the talent to back it up. In this revealing episode of ‘Unsung’, Angela provides candid details about the ups and downs of her career. While writing a string of hits for herself, she also wrote and produced for a range of artists including Janet Jackson, Stephanie Mills and the Isley Brothers. Along with all the musical highs, Angela faced dramatic challenges along the way: the breakup of a prolific partnership with Rene Moore, bitter lawsuits over music copyrights, a celebrity marriage and divorce from R&B icon Ron Isley, and a high-stakes battle with ovarian cancer. Through it all, she has used her church roots to maintain a fearless spirit that has carried her through.