VH1 Celebrates Black Music With Documentary, Boxed Set
"Say It Loud! A Celebration of Black Music in America," the five-part documentary focusing on the cultural, political, spiritual, and financial impact of R&B, hip-hop, soul, gospel, jazz, and blue"Say It Loud! A Celebration of Black Music in America," the five-part documentary focusing on the cultural, political, spiritual, and financial impact of R&B, hip-hop, soul, gospel, jazz, and blues, premieres Sunday (Oct. 7) on VH1. It is accompanied by a six-CD boxed set from Rhino that will be released Oct. 9. As first reported here in February, the documentary is a co-production of VH1, Quincy Jones Media Group, and Rhino Entertainment in association with Highway Films.
Divided into five themed rather than chronological episodes, the documentary will run on successive nights, bracketed by two "Behind the Music" specials: Sean "P. Diddy" Combs (Oct. 7) and Aaliyah (Oct. 14). Part one, titled "Keep on Pushin'," chronicles black music's relationship with politics, protest, and the civil-rights movement.
That is followed by "Pursuing the Dream" (Oct. 8), which tracks the progress of black artists from exploitation to ownership; "Can I Get a Witness" (Oct. 9), which examines black music's spiritual pulse; "Let's Get It On" (Oct. 10), a look at sexuality in black music; and "Express Yourself" (Oct. 11), which focuses on black artists' past and present influence on popular culture, from fashion to language.
In lieu of a narrator, more than 70 artists were interviewed. Among those relating their perspectives and personal experiences are James Brown, Queen Latifah, George Clinton, Chuck D, Macy Gray, Isaac Hayes, George Benson, TLC's Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins, and Sheila E. "I love shows like this," says T-Boz, who appears in the fourth and fifth episodes. "It gives artists a chance to show we're touchable people with feelings, not just statues to be worshiped."
The accompanying six-CD "Say It Loud!" boxed set spans eight decades (1916-1999) via 110 tracks. The collection is packaged into a portfolio that is supplemented by a 100-page bound booklet featuring essays by Jones and others. A 20-cut soundtrack culled from the documentary is due tomorrow (Oct. 2).
While VH1 did consider delaying the premiere in light of the recent terrorist attacks, executive VP of programming Fred Graver says, "It all comes back to the word 'celebration.' This is a powerful American story about injustice, inequality, and pain, but also about pride and triumph. So we thought it was completely right to go ahead as scheduled. The cumulative effect of watching this -- the powerful forces that have shaped black music and the equally powerful effect of black music -- is impressive."