"Unsung," the bio series from TV One, is coming back for a second season on Sunday, June 7. This time around, the show chronicles the lives of four would-be superstars that never got their due recognition: Minnie Riperton, Melba Moore, Florence Ballard of The Supremes and the defunct dance group Shalamar. The mini-documentaries, which will air every Sunday in June, feature exclusive interviews with the performers and the people who knew them best.
This week’s show chronicles the life and career of Minnie Riperton, who may be best known to ’80s babies as a name on the Kanye West hit "Slow Jamz." Music heads know her as the songstress with the five-and-a-half octave voice and for the sweetly sexy hit "Lovin’ You." Minnie passed away in 1979, so her episode features her husband and their two children.
Her famous daughter, "Saturday Night Live" actress Maya Rudolph, reflected on her mother during the episode: "The more I grow into the person I am becoming, the more it’s kind of obvious that she’s very much alive in me."
Minnie’s episode premieres on June 7 at 8 p.m. EST.
We spoke with Melba Moore, who was a rising star in the ’70s and ’80s, even winning both Tony and Grammy awards. Her story will appear on the second episode of "Unsung."
"I never go to do what I was put here to do," she told us during a phone interview. "And I wanted people to know I’m still here; I’m striving to do it, and if the story gets out, I’ll get to finish my destiny here as an artist."
Hits like "A Little Bit More," which was a Freddie Jackson collabo, had Melba riding high until what she calls a "fradulent divorce" from her manager-husband ruined it. Watch the show for details, but she’s got a pretty juicy story to tell!
Her episode premieres on June 14 at 8 p.m. EST.
Jody Watley people know, but Shalamar? Shalamar was a dance group that began right when "Soul Train" was at the height of its popularity. The group featured three talented kids: Jeffrey Daniel, Howard Hewitt and Jody Watley, who left the group in 1984 to launch a successful solo career.
"Being an original member of that group, I thought it would be a good idea to have my voice represented," Jody told us. As the youngest and only woman in the group, Jody made a bold move to quit after seven years of what she felt was unfair treatment.
She told S2S that she wants viewers to "be inspired, because my journey represents being fearless and not worrying so much about what other people say, or how other people try to define you."
Catch her story on June 21 at 8 p.m. EST.
Florence Ballard, the founding member of super girl group The Supremes, is known by many, either as the voice behind hits like "Baby Love" or as the inspiration for the Dreamgirls character, Effie White. She died in 1976, so her friends and family spoke on her behalf.
"Florence Ballard had a tremendous voice that a lot of the world never even heard," Mary Wilson, Florence’s friend and fellow Supreme told S2S. "Because she, like myself, was doing not out-front singing, not doing the lead part. So people didn’t really know the extent of the talent."
Like Jennifer Holiday and Jennifer Hudson, the actresses who played her fictionalized character in Dreamgirls, Florence’s voice was strong, powerful and soulful, but not what the record label wanted for one of their most successful acts. Unlike Effie, her story has never been told.
To get the full scope of her rise and descent, you’ll have to catch the premiere on June 28 at 8 p.m. EST.
"Unsung" premieres June 7 at 8.p.m. EST, and returns every Sunday this month at 8 p.m.
— Whitney Teal
All photos courtesy of Gilda Squire Media Relations, unless otherwise noted.