'Unsung' continues legacy of shining light on what's obscured in Black music
STEPHON JOHNSON Amsterdam News Staff | 12/28/2011, 6:33 p.m.
Lisa Lisa, Bob Dylan, UFTO, Kurits Blow, Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys. Selena, LFO, Samantha Fox and Chaka Khan. Barry White, Sting, Santana and Tito Puente. All of these artists have recorded or collaborated with many of the subjects of the third installment of "Unsung," the TV One series that looks like artists who have made a huge impact on music but remain unappreciated in the story of Black music and music in general.
TV One opens the new season of "Unsung" Jan. 2 with an episode on the late Vesta Williams.
For those who don't know, Williams' voice was a staple in the 1980s, when she sang back-up for the likes of Anita Baker and Gladys Knight. Williams eventually made her mark as a solo artist in the mid-'80s with several well-known R&B radio staples like "Once Bitten, Twice Shy" and "Don't Blow a Good Thing."
The episode addresses her uncomfortable relationship with fame, her drug and food addiction and her eventual recovery from weight problems. The episode contains some of Williams' last interviews before she passed away Sept. 22 at the age of 53.
The following nine episodes of this season of "Unsung" lean heavy on '80s stars, with installments on R&B groups Atlantic Starr and Full Force, R&B singer Freddie Jackson, percussion virtuoso Sheila E. and hip-hop pioneers Whodini. They also look back to the 1970s with shows dedicated to R&B multitalents Bobby Womack, Ray Parker Jr., Millie Jackson and former Temptations vocalist/solo singer David Ruffin.
In its short run on TV One, "Unsung" has resurrected the unheralded careers of DeBarge, Sylvester, Minnie Riperton, Teena Marie, the Sylvers, the Spinners, the Ohio Players, Stacy Lattisaw and Big Daddy Kane.