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FLIPSIDES of the BLACK MUSICAL EXPERIENCE: Project Description

Flipsides of the Black Musical Experience is a documentary that will showcase the diversity of the musical legacy of Black musical artists. The program will present innovative snapshots of successful Black artists who mastered musical genres not typical — nor expected — of them. Flipsides will cover six artists who each represent a different genre: opera, punk rock, folk, classic rock, country and classical. The featured artists have distinctly different styles and worked over a period of time spanning three centuries. Flipsides will celebrate the underacknowledged careers of these uber-talented Black singers, songwriters, composers and musicians, who all broke new ground in the process of making their musical gifts manifest. This program will celebrate the accomplishments of Black artists outside of the musical categories that they are typically associated with. Using interviews, archival footage and original music, Flipsides will highlight the innovation of Black artists across the spectrum of musical genres, with the primary objective of providing a uniquely entertaining and enjoyable learning experience for audiences. The featured artists each have an intriguing and layered backstory; insight into their respective journeys will shed new light on the breadth of Black artists’ contributions to the pantheon of Western music. Their stories bear witness to the creative fire that consumes and drives great artists, not to mention strength and resilience in the face of all manner of adversity. These artists exemplify the creative spirit undeterred; all were propelled by the need to make music their life’s work and none allowed anything to impede their quests.


FLIPSIDES of the BLACK MUSICAL EXPERIENCE: Program Outline The schematic for this program is based on the idea of duality. Accordingly, the program is divided into three distinct segments that each cover two divergent musical genres mastered by a Black artist. Hence the title, Flipsides of the Black Musical Experience. A total of six artists will be featured.

SEGMENT ONE: High Art to Rough Rebellion | Sissieretta Jones & Death This segment explores two seemingly disparate examples of Black musical diversity: opera and punk rock. Soprano Matilda Sissieretta Joyner Jones was one of the most accomplished Black artists that America has ever produced, yet she is also one of the least known. Born in 1869, she was not only a bonafide musical star, but also a trailblazer within the lexicon of American opera. Over the course of her career, Jones sang for everyday American audiences, as well as four U.S. presidents, U.S. Supreme Court justices and overseas audiences from the West Indies to Europe….yet somehow she eventually died in obscurity. The second half of this segment highlights the little known, highly revolutionary Black hardcore band Death, the country’s first Black punk band. Death was formed in Detroit in 1971, the same year that American punk rock took off on the East Coast. The band’s members were the Hackney brothers: David, Bobby and Dannis. Originally an R&B group, a musical light bulb went off for the trio after seeing an Alice Cooper show, and they discovered a better fit in the razoredged music that fit the grim scenario of life in mid-1970s Michigan to a tee. Decades later, they have risen to a sort of cult spotlight for a new generation.


FLIPSIDES of the BLACK MUSICAL EXPERIENCE: Program Outline

SEGMENT TWO: Passion Burning Bright | Tracey Chapman & Phil Lynott Segment Two looks at two genres of music that thrive on passion yet embody the emotion very differently: folk and classic rock. We’ll examine two artists who channeled passion and, thanks to their very unique personal journeys, used it to create unforgettable music: folk songstress Tracy Chapman and rocker Phil Lynott, founder of the group Thin Lizzy. Chapman’s understated musical activism was a humanitarian call to arms in an era of conspicuous consumption and greed, telling stories of love, loss, struggle and (in)justice. Lynott’s soulful edge celebrated the devil-maycare spirit of rock and roll, always hinting that new adventures with the lads were just around the corner. In their respective moments in the sun, both Chapman and Lynott stepped to their own beat and stood apart from the crowd…and decades later, no one has quite filled the niches they so artfully carved out.


FLIPSIDES of the BLACK MUSICAL EXPERIENCE: Program Outline

SEGMENT THREE: Excellence Against all Odds Charley Pride & Joseph Bologne Chevalier de Saint-Georges

Segment Three examines two musical genres that, compared to other genres, have been far less frequently created by Black artists: country and classical. We will get better acquainted with two artists who, against seemingly endless odds, achieved undeniable excellence in these styles. They are Charley Pride, who despite wrestling very real personal demons became a huge star in the racial minefield that is country music and Joseph Bologne Chevalier de Saint-Georges, a classical musician and composer who managed to achieve national notoriety as an musical virtuoso, a championship-level fencer and commanding soldier….as a Black man in 18th century France. In retrospect, these two artists achieved what many would swear was absolutely impossible. Instead of subscribing to the power of barriers, they not only had vision that went beyond the cultural and legal obstacles looming around them, they blasted through those obstacles like so many sticks of dynamite.


FLIPSIDES of the BLACK MUSICAL EXPERIENCE: Team CELIA C. PETERS, Producer | Director | Writer Celia C. Peters is an avant-garde filmmaker creating compelling stories with authentically diverse characters. Peters is a member of New York Women in Film and Television and the Writers Guild of America. Her screenwriting has been prizewinning [2011 AAWIC Film Festival; 2004 SFBFF] and recognized in competition. In 2012 she was awarded a residency at Hawthornden International Retreat for Writers in Scotland. Her credits include experimental pieces “FIOFY,” “Poem in Motion” (2011); the short documentary “Rethinking Beauty (2011),” and “Editing Uptown (2010),” a featurette on the DVD of the indie film, “Uptown.” In 2007, Peters produced “The State of Hip-Hop” for WHUT/PBS and her short film “Breakthrough (2006),” was broadcast on BET’s The Best Shorts. Peters holds an honors B.A. in French and Political Science from University of Michigan, an M.A. in Public Policy from University of Chicago; she’s also done graduate studies in Clinical Psychology at New York University. Peters is currently developing her first feature film, the sci-fi project Godspeed.

SHEILA MANIAR, Coordinating Producer Ms. Maniar is a filmmaker living in New York. Her most recent credits include Production Manager/ Researcher for One Thousand Pictures (about RFK’s funeral train) for the Scottish-based company Lichen Films, which aired on HBO in June 2011. She was the Archival Producer for the four-part series Murder in Black and White for TV-One in 2008. Ms. Maniar also has several credits as an associate producer, including PBS’ Citizen King for the American Experience, Discovery Science’s: Ecotech: Building Green, and WWIII: Beyond Lebanon for the History Channel. She also has extensive experience as an archival researcher. Ms. Maniar was the Archival Clearance Researcher for Jonathan Demme’s Mandela: Son of Africa, Father of a Nation, which was nominated for an Academy Award. Many of the archival projects have also aired on The History Channel, Discovery, HBO and PBS.


FLIPSIDES of the Black Musical Experience  

Introducing the groundbreaking documentary film project created and produced by Celia C. Peters. Flipsides of the Black Musical Experience s...

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