Unsung (TV series)
Unsung logo from TV One
|Format||Music Documentary Series|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Running time||60 minutes|
|Original channel||TV One|
|Original airing||November 27, 2008|
Unsung is an hour-long music documentary program that airs on TV One. Premiering in November 2008, the series uncovers the stories behind once well-known R&B and soul music artists, bands or groups who exploded onto the Billboard music charts with a string of hits, only to have their career derailed by a major crisis that cause them to be essentially unappreciated by later generations of general Contemporary R&B listeners. Subjects profiled also include acts who were major and influential in the prime of their career, but a change in the interest of the music industry towards the act caused a steep decline in success.
Episodes are packed with testimonies from music industry insiders, friends and family, as well as artists who were contemporaries but whose careers continued to flourish through later decades.
Each episode usually begins with the upbringing of the artist within their family, painting a picture of the issues driving the artist in their adult music career. Themes of "escaping the hard-life of the streets" and "experiencing physical abuse", as well as "signs of musical genius", can be found in many of the lives of the subjects of Unsung. Those interviewed in this segment of the show typically are family and friends, although some are famous if the subject of the episode is an R&B group. The story then progresses into the trials and triumphs of the artist's early days in the music business, as the artist chases his "big break" which propels him into the limelight on the way to stardom. Fellow artists / music producers / managers of that time pepper this section of the show with anecdotes of the artist's musical prowess and potential, and also possible hints to what may have led to the subject's downfall. The next stage highlights the pinnacle of the artist's fame with the perks and perils that come with it. The final part of the show details the "turning point", in which a major incident, mainly of a tragic, health-related nature, occurred that caused the artist to put his music career on hold for an indefinite period, if not permanently.
Unsung has tailored this formula, depending on the show's subject, to portray artists whose "turning point" occurred for more business or personal reasons, and who may have recovered from it to continue a far-less famous, but rewarding, career. The Spinners are a legendary R&B group with 17 Billboard Top-40 hits (7 of which were in the top 10) between 1961 and 1980, yet they have never received a Grammy award and are not inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame. These facts qualify the group for an episode of Unsung.
Public & Critical Reception
"Unsung" has enjoyed steady growth in African-American households as each season has aired.
After four seasons, Unsung won an NAACP Image Award in the "Outstanding Information Series or Special" category. Others nominated in this category for 2011 were Anderson Cooper 360° and Washington Watch with Roland Martin.
One aspect of note to the Unsung series is the sense of closure given to both the fans of the series as well as the families of the artists who died, as in the case of Roger Troutman of Zapp. Troutman's brother stated that the public was finally on the same page as the family in regards to realizing that no one really knows what happened between Roger & Larry Troutman the fatal morning of the incident.
Recording artist Stephanie Mills has gone on record as not being a fan of the show. She admits that she has been approached by producers of the series as either being a commentator or the star of an episode, and has denied them access of her personal life. She does not believe herself as "Unsung".
In October 2013 TV One stealthily announced Unsung would receive a spin-off titled "Unsung Hollywood", which will premiere on February 26, 2014. Unsung Hollywood's focus will be on the stars of film and television primarily. Already lined up as subjects of individual episodes are Pam Grier, Robin Harris, Kadeem Hardison, Dick Gregory, Flip Wilson and others.
List of artists, bands and groups profiled on Unsung
A - D
E - I
J - R
S - Z
- "TV One's 'Unsung' hits the right note for Black music lovers". theloop21.com. Retrieved 2010-10-08.
- "TV series puts 'Unsung' black music stars back in the spotlight". popmatters.com. Retrieved 2011-06-06.
- Target Market News
- Black Voices Newswire
- Serwer, Jesse (2010-03-29). "On TV One's 'Unsung,' singer Stacy Lattisaw gets a second life". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2010-03-29.
- IndieWire: "Don't Expect To See Stephanie Mills On TV One's Popular "Unsung" Series Anytime Soon..."