*Silver Spring, MD – TV One’s NAACP Image Award-winning series Unsung is well on its way to its most successful season ever, delivering 27% more homes and 26% more P25-54 viewers than last year, which was the series’ best. This season, which kicked off on Monday, Jan 2, has also resulted in the two highest-rated episodes in Unsung’s history in both households and key P25-54 viewers.
Through the first five episodes of the season (Vesta Williams, Bobby Womack, Atlantic Starr, Full Force and Freddie Jackson), TV One’s Monday night premiere telecast is averaging 493,000 homes and 429,000 P25-54 viewers.
Unsung’s Freddie Jackson Jan. 23 premiere ranks as the highest-rated episode ever among households with an average of 616,000 homes tuning in, and the Full Force Jan. 30 premiere ranks as the highest-rated episode among P25-54 viewers. (Source: Nielsen Media Research: HH and P25-54 Based on Live+3 data).
Unsung is TV One’s acclaimed series of one-hour biographies celebrating the lives and careers of successful artists or groups who, despite great talent, have not received the level of recognition they deserve or whose stories have never been told. The full picture of black music in America is a rich kaleidoscope of talented artists and so much bigger than acknowledged superstars and household names like Aretha, Whitney, Stevie and Marvin. Many of the greatest have either failed to achieve that same level of superstardom – or have compelling life stories the details of which have largely remained untold. Ten of black music’s most talented artists and groups are being featured this season through March 12th in all-new episodes of Unsung, TV One’s top-rated and most highly anticipated series, with the late Vesta Williams, Bobby Womack, Atlantic Starr, Freddie Jackson, Full Force, and Millie Jackson having been profiled thus far.
New episodes air Mondays at 10 PM, repeating at 1 AM (all times ET). Please note the revised premiere dates of the Sheila E., David Ruffin and Whodini episodes below:
Ray Parker, Jr. (February 13) - Whether singing, playing guitar, or crafting smooth-sailing hits like ‘Jack and Jill, ‘The Other Woman’ or ‘You Can’t Change That’, Ray Parker Jr. made success look easy. But behind the show-biz façade, Parker was an obsessive musician – a guitarist who’d cut his teeth with Motown’s house band, the Funk brothers, as a teenager, and later played with Stevie Wonder and Barry White. Long before his emergence as a headliner, he’d written hits for White and Chaka Khan, while crafting a Grammy winning single for Leo Sayer – ‘You Make Me Feel Like Dancing’ – for which he never received credit, a hard lesson in business that drove him to contemplate suicide. All of which was just a prelude to Parker’s own Grammy winning triumph with ‘Ghostbusters’ – and the controversy which followed, in which he stood accused of plagiarizing someone else’s hit. A double-dose of baby mama drama, family loss, and an ill-advised decision to leave his safe haven at Arista Records accelerated his descent from the top of the charts. But Ray Parker proved unsinkable, and along with testimony from his extended musical family – including Cheryl Lynn, Chaka Khan and Clive Davis – he tells ‘Unsung’ the tale of his still-unfolding journey.
Sheila E. (and the E. family) (February 27) – While the Jacksons, Sylvers and Debarge define family singing groups, the Escovedos are something else: a family that learned how to stay together by playing together. Even before Sheila E. garnered international celebrity for 80’s mega hits “The Glamorous Life” and “A Love Bizarre,” her father, brothers and extended family were acclaimed musicians, with associations ranging from Santana to Tito Puente, Lionel Richie, Jennifer Lopez, Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye. Of course, Sheila remains the family’s shining star, whose partnership with Prince on songs like ‘A Love Bizarre’ and ‘Erotic City’ produced plenty of heat on stage and off. But her rise to the top as a lovely Latina with serious musical chops came with a cost, including serious health issues, and a childhood trauma which would shadow her direction in decades to come. On this episode of ‘Unsung’, Sheila, her father, and her talented siblings come together to trace the remarkable journey of Oakland’s musical first family.
David Ruffin (March 5) – The raspy and anguished lead voice on mega-hits “My Girl,” “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” and “I Know (I’m Losing You),” David Ruffin was the center of The Temptations in their peak years. But his expanding ego forced his band mates to cut ties with him in 1968. And with only one significant solo hit, “My Whole World Ended,” Ruffin never again reached the heights he’d enjoyed as the swoon-inducing leader of The Tempts. In private life, David was a talented, self-tortured soul, capable of kindness and generosity along with untempered anger. But drug abuse wore him down in the ’70s and ’80s, costing him precious opportunities to reunite with friends and former bandmates, and damaging his relationships with those closest to his heart. Less than two years after joining The Temptations onstage for their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, he was found dead from an apparent drug overdose at the age 50. Now, his family, friends and musical associates come together to help ‘Unsung’ portray the tumultuous life and career of a legendary singer.
Whodini (March 12) – With a string of up-tempo, R&B inflected hits in the mid to late 1980’s, the New York bred rap trio of Jalil Hutchins, John Fletcher (aka Ecstasy) and Drew Carter (aka Grandmaster Dee) dominated the Billboard charts to become one of rap’s first superstars. Along with Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five, LL Cool J, RUN-DMC & The Fat Boys, they helped define hip hop’s ‘golden age’ with platinum success. And with hits like “Friends,” “Big Mouth” & “Five Minutes of Funk,” Whodini mastered a difficult magic trick by making danceable music that was reflective and thoughtful. But along with the perks of success, Whodini battled drug issues, squabbles over money and clashing egos, which ultimately caused the group to break up. Yet the group never completely lost sight of their earlier ambitions, reuniting after realizing they were stronger together than apart. For ‘Unsung’, Whodini’s members tell the story of a fun-loving, trailblazing brotherhood who have survived 3 decades of wild ups and downs.
“We are truly honored that Unsung has become a beloved classic, and that it not only continues to strike a chord with our viewers, but continues to grow its audience,” said TV One Executive Vice President of Original Programming and Production Toni Judkins.
Launched in January 2004, TV One (www.tvone.tv) serves more than 56 million households, offering a broad range of real-life and entertainment-focused original programming, classic series, movies, and music designed to entertain, inform and inspire a diverse audience of adult black viewers. In December 2008, the company launched TV One High Def, which now serves 14 million households. TV One is owned by Radio One [NASDAQ: ROIA and ROIAK; www.radio-one.com], the largest radio company that primarily targets African American and urban listeners; and Comcast Corporation [NASDAQ: CMCSA, CMCSK); www.comcast.com], one of the nation’s leading providers of entertainment, information and communications products and services.