What ever happened to DeBarge? Why isn’t Donny Hathaway’s legacy as strong as Marvin Gaye’s? TV One sets out to answer these questions and tell the story of urban music’s unsung heroes on the new series “Unsung,” premiering November 27 at 7 p.m. The series, reminiscent of VH1’s “Behind the Music,” is narrated by Al B. Sure.
"It’s an amazing series of four, one-hour biography specials that celebrate the lives and careers of the four accomplished artists or groups who deserved but just didn’t make that transition to superstardom–;Phyllis Hyman, Donny Hathaway, the Clark Sisters and DeBarge," said Al, who hosts a radio show on L.A.’s HOT 92.3 FM.
Al said although he knew all of the artists in the series personally, he learned a lot about their background stories from the special.
The Thanksgiving night episode is a biography of DeBarge’s rise to fame and fall from the spotlight. DeBarge fans will learn that while this family was being groomed by Motown to become the next Jackson 5, they were suffering from the scars of physical and sexual abuse in their household.
The DeBarge family’s story will build anticipation for the four-night series that starts November 30 with the story of Phyllis Hyman. DeBarge fans will learn that while this family was being groomed by Motown to become the next Jackson 5, they were suffering from the scars of physical and sexual abuse in their household.
Bunny DeBarge was excited to participate in the biography because she recently finished a book about her family life and the music industry. "I’ve been wanting to talk to the fans concerning my family," Bunny said. Her book The Kept Ones will be released on Thanksgiving day. “A lot of people think that because your famous you don’t have pain and things don’t go on in your life. DeBarge just dropped out of the scene all of the sudden and they wanted to know what happened, so I wrote it in the book.”
Bunny said the abuse in her family impacted each of them and led to her own drug abuse. She added that while drugs where popular at the time when DeBarge was hot, their usage “was to medicate pain. And then the addiction and not really dealing with the things that happened, the things that keep you sick, that had very much to do with what happened in our lives with our success,” Bunny said.
Several DeBarge relatives are featured in the special, including Mama DeBarge and group members Randy and James. Mark and El DeBarge are missing from the series. Bunny said that she wasn’t sure why they were absent, but she also confirmed that it’s nothing personal.
"We have no problems with one another like that. We’re still a very loving family. There’s a lot of pain from our childhood and there’s a lot of pain from the music industry," Bunny said. "But we still care very much about what one another are doing and that everybody gets it together and comes back together as a family and a group and walk in our destiny."
"Unsung" promises to shed light on some of the most talented fallen stars of our time. "There’s so many different factors that kept the artist from achieving that iconic commercial status that they might have deserved," said Al B Sure. "Everything got in the way, from drugs to outside influences."
Find out what happened to Phyllis Hyman on November 30, The Clark Sisters on December 1 and Donny Hathaway on December 2. The DeBarge biography will air again on December 3 to close the series. Go to TVOneOnline.com for more details about the series.
Watch a clip from the series below.
– Sabrina M. Parker
Debarge photo courtesy of Motown Records.
Al B Sure photo courtesy of Al B Sure.