Early ’00s Proud Family fans rejoice! The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder is set to premiere on Disney+ this Black History Month (Feb. 23), with an all-star cast.
With iconic characters including Penny Proud (once again voiced by TV veteran Kyla Pratt), Penny’s parents Trudy and Oscar Proud and the teen’s mischievous friends Dijonay, Zoey, LaCienega, and Sticky, the hit series became a classic after its September 2001 premiere. For the first time, Keke Palmer and Billy Porter are set to voice characters in the Louder and Prouder edition.
In addition to Penny’s teenage adventures, which kept fans glued to the screen, many viewers thoroughly enjoyed the series’ memorable theme song. Originally sang by Solange Knowles and the Destiny’s Child trio of Michelle Williams, Kelly Rowland and Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, the all-new Proud Family: Louder and Prouder theme track is revamped with a modern twist by rising star Joyce Wrice.
Billboard caught up with singer-songwriter Wrice and the original series theme composer Kurt Farquhar, who was among those to select her as the voice of the new tune.
“Many people feel like they grew up with The Proud Family and feel like the show is theirs,” Farquhar explains. “The trick is reimagining it to give them something new and that feeling of remembrance. We did everything we could to make sure that people feel like they’re still connected to it in some way.”
But with Wrice onboard to sing the new rendition, the composer adds, “At the same time, it’s feeling like, ‘Wow, here’s this amazing new voice singing in this amazing new way that’s perfect.”
And Wrice, who is thrilled to take the baton after Solange and Destiny’s Child, details, “It was really intimidating in the beginning, because I respect them so much. But I feel great. I listen to them even to this day, so it’s really an honor to be in this position. I feel very fortunate.”
For both Farquhar and Wrice, it was especially important and somewhat a challenge to add a new flair to the already incredible song, while sticking to its core melody. “There were times where I knew I didn’t want to be too different or stray from the original and historic aspect of it,” the “Falling in Love” singer admits. “But Kurt was very encouraging, so I was able to find a balance.”
As for selecting the perfect singer for the theme, longtime songwriter and award-winner Farquhar says music supervisor Ashley Neumeister played a pivotal role in identifying Wrice’s talent. “Ashley had been following Joyce for a minute,” he recalls. And after listening to her vocals on the R&B groove “On One” featuring Freddie Gibbs, “She said, ‘Kurt, you’ve gotta check this out.’”
With more than two decades of experience in the industry, Farquhar says working with a team that helps find new talent is crucial for the advancement of his career. He also credits his colleagues and series producers Bruce W. Smith and Ralph Farquhar — who is “affectionately known [by the name] R&B” — for selecting Wrice.
“R&B heard her voice and they saw a [music] video she did and said, ‘Wow, if Penny Proud was a recording artist, she would be this girl.’ She had something really special that we all connected to and everyone that heard said it had to be her, because she is this character.”
Farquhar says of the organic teaming, “It’s a dream when you’re doing your thing and making your music and all of a sudden somebody hears you and says, ‘Hey, you have to do this.’ That actually happened.”
As for Wrice’s striking similarity to the fictional character, she explains, “Penny is so pure and passionate — so I kept her pureness and sweetness in the back of my mind while recording the record. I could totally relate to her family getting on her nerves and loving them so much.”
“Penny is a go-getter and so is Joyce,” Farquhar says. “That’s one of those things they both have in common.”
And Wrice adds, “For this to be the first [television gig I’ve worked] is amazing. I’d love to get more involved in TV and film. I’m so happy to get started with The Proud Family: [Louder and Prouder] and a theme song that resonates so much with me.”
The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder premieres Feb. 23 on Disney+. Watch the official series music featurette below: