*TV One begins a new season of its popular “Unsung” docu-series on March 22 with four new episodes profiling Rose Royce, Sylvester, Stacy Lattisaw and the Bar-Kays.
Unsung will reveal the multiple factors that kept these artists from achieving the iconic commercial status they deserved, the network stated. Featuring exclusive interviews, musical clips and archival footage, each episode will investigate the stories of these pivotal artists, their journey through music and their perhaps unexpected influence on the music of today.
New episodes premiere on Mondays at 9 p.m. and midnight, with encores set for Sundays at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. (all times ET), Tuesdays at noon, Wednesdays at 3 a.m., Thursdays at 5 p.m., Fridays at 5 a.m. and Saturdays at noon.
Below are overviews and airdates of each new episode:
• Rose Royce (premieres March 22) – Rose Royce emerged from South Central Los Angeles in the mid-1970s to become one of the top-selling groups of that decade. Nurtured by legendary Motown producer Norman Whitfield, the group topped the charts with their first LP, a soundtrack for the movie “Car Wash” that sold three million copies and spawned such hits as “I Wanna Get Next to You,” “I’m Goin Down” and of course, the mega-successful title track. With vocalist Gwen Dickey leading the way, this nine member ensemble combined classy pop stylings with funky R&B riffs. But after three consecutive platinum albums and lasting hits like “Wishing on a Star” and “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore,” Rose Royce succumbed to the too-frequent stresses of overnight success. Dickey, not yet 20 when she joined in 1975, was so burned out and disillusioned that she left the group at its peak — some band members say she was fired and refused to perform or record for years. As the group floundered, bassist Lequeint “Duke” Jobe fell prey to drugs and wound up homeless and in jail. Despite it all, the core of Rose Royce has managed to stay together for 35 years, while Dickey has developed a successful solo career in the UK, where she has lived for the past two decades. Now they reveal their long, strange journey on “UnSung.”
• Sylvester (premieres March 29) – Sylvester James was the undisputed King and Queen of disco. He strived for fame, fortune and freedom during a time when it was highly unlikely for a large, openly gay, sometimes in drag, African American male to make it in the world of entertainment. But with a powerhouse falsetto voice to back him up, that’s exactly what Sylvester did. On this ground-breaking episode, Sylvester’s family takes us to his childhood home and the church where it all began in Los Angeles. We visit his old neighborhood and the Palm Lane Church of God where he got his start singing and performing in the choir, becoming a gospel sensation around town. But it was also here where Sylvester would learn that being “different” was both a challenge and an opportunity for someone with courage and personal flair. Moving to San Francisco, Sylvester began his rise to stardom performing with a theater troupe, which ultimately led to a recording contract. Gold albums, movie roles, and TV appearances followed. Then the glow faded as he endured the loss of close friends through the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s. Sylvester ultimately succumbed to the disease as well, while leaving a legacy of music, which embodied a generation’s determination to live their lives on their own terms. Now, through interviews with music colleagues such as Narada Michael Walden, The Pointer Sisters, Martha Wash and Jeanie Tracey, along with close family members and friends, “UnSung” chronicles a music career which reached heights that few expected, but in retrospect was fully earned.
• Stacy Lattisaw (premieres April 12) – She was a child star who was signed to a major label at the age of 12, and enjoyed a top ten hit a year later. Stacy Lattisaw was a charming teenager with the voice of a singer far beyond her years. She seemed to be living a dream, opening for and befriending Michael Jackson, and sharing songs and romance with another teenaged talent, Johnny Gill. But after a decade long career that produced thirteen albums and nearly two dozen charted singles like “Let Me Be Your Angel” and “Love on a Two-Way Street”, Stacy abruptly turned her back on the music business and walked away – even as her farewell single “Where Do We Go From Here?” – a reunion duet with Gill – topped the R&B charts. Fans and music industry types were stunned, but family and friends were not so surprised. They knew the price she had paid for a decade at the top of the music business and how she’d fulfilled everybody’s dreams… except her own. In this remarkably intimate portrait, Stacy Lattisaw reveals the drive and emotional forces that pushed her to stardom – and ultimately drove her away from popular music.
• Bar-Kays (premieres April 19) – First rising to prominence as a house band for the legendary Stax record label, the Bar-Kays have survived 40 years, 27 albums, 25 members, 23 hits, a tragic plane crash, a stroke, a murder and at least five major shifts in black music. By consciously adapting their style to the trends of the day and constantly tuning their voice to the will of the streets, they’ve managed to make hits in every prevailing genre: R&B, Soul, Funk, Disco, Techno and even Hip Hop. Many bands had greater hits, but none have earned greater longevity. The miracle is that this band nearly ended before it began, when all but two members – Ben Cauley and James Alexander – died in the plane crash that killed singing great Otis Redding. Yet those two members rebuilt the Bar-Kays into a remarkable hit machine – and never looked back – until this exclusive episode of “Unsung.”