NOTE: TV One made last minute changes to the air schedule, and Gerald Levert will now air on Monday, August 20. The next new episode of Unsung, Arrested Development, will air Monday, August 13.
Crowned by fans as “the last soul singer,” Gerald Levert was one of the preeminent forces of ’80s and ’90s R&B. He took his pedigree from his father, Eddie Levert, of The O’Jays, and while still a teenager, formed his own singing group, LeVert, with Marc Gordon and his younger brother, Sean. LeVert dominated the charts. Thanks to infectious hits like “Casanova” and “(Pop Pop Pop Pop ) Goes My Mind,” LeVert scored four straight gold records and five chart-topping singles. From there, Gerald launched a formidable solo career, including a duet with his father, “Baby Hold on to Me,” which also hit number one. But Gerald could never find contentment in his many achievements, and remained driven to top himself throughout his career — a journey which ended tragically with his untimely death in 2006 at the age of 40.
Gerald Levert’s life and career will be chronicled in the next epsidode of TV One’s “Unsung,” airing Monday at 9 p.m. and repeating at midnight.
“He was on a quest to be all that he could be,” explained Eddie Levert of his late son. “The media and the business weren’t giving him the hoopla that they gave the Babyfaces and the other great writers and performers that came into the business. He didn’t feel like he was getting the same recognition and so he kept working harder and harder. He was a workaholic.”
Following the disclosure of Levert's cause of death, a family spokesman stated that all the drugs found in Levert's bloodstream were prescribed to the singer because of chronic pain from a lingering shoulder problem and surgery in 2005 to repair a severed Achilles tendon.
“He’s the one son — and I love all my sons, that goes without saying, and they took on characteristics of mine, and I see it every day, and I have to acknowledge, even with some of the messed-up things they do — he not only took on the mannerisms, he also took on the quest. The quest was to better our family life and our family’s position so that we could have a better life. That’s why I got in show business. And he took on that whole quest, and me — without knowing it — I put that on him. I use to apologize to him for making him like that because this is all I talked about to him…he took on that fight, and in taking on that fight, it made him very vulnerable. I used to have to tell him to save some for himself and not give it all to show business, but he gave it all, and kept none for himself. I think that, in rationalizing, part of why he suffered an early death is he took on the burden and he didn’t know how to save some for Gerald.”
Shortly before his death, Levert completed work on what would be his final album, “In My Songs.” In June 2007, a book Gerald was working to complete entitled, “I Got Your Back: A Father and Son Keep it Real About Love, Fatherhood, Family, and Friendship,” was released. The book was initially planned as a tie-in for a Levert album of the same name. “I Got Your Back” explores Gerald and Eddie’s father/son relationship, the necessity of male bonding, and importance of repairing fractured families. In 2008, the senior Levert suffered another loss when his son, Sean Levert died, at age 39.
“Out of all the things that I have done in show business, some of my greatest moments were with that kid on stage because everything didn’t have to be rehearsed,” recalled Eddie of their on-stage collaborations. “We were so spontaneous. We would have a mapped out show, but at any moment that would turn into something else, you know, it would turn into a revival. We were able to, on the spot, adjust to that. And that was the kind of artist he was. I could sing with this kid all day because there were no boundaries. You know, with a lot of people, you have to spell things out for them to perform. With him and me, we lived in the moment, and whatever comes, that’s what we’re going to do and God put his hand on it and it comes out great.”
And then the father pauses, and in a reflective voice says: “You know, I really miss him. And I really miss him from that standpoint because I got so much courage and some of my greatest moments were with this kid.”
Eddie, now 70, still performs regularly with mighty O’Jays (and will be in Philadelphia on July 27 at The Mann Music Center). The father laughed and noted that his son still informs his performances. “Every day, when I think about Gerald, I go ‘Look what you’ve done to me!’ the reason why I say that is because he stole all of my moves — he got it all from me and y’all try to play me like he didn’t — and now he’s not around, and now I got to act like I still got it.”
Despite a deep sense of loss, Levert says his faith gives him the strength to remember the good times. “I think it’s my love for God, and believing that God doesn’t put something on you that you cannot handle. I truly believe that, because you never get over it. At any point or on any day it can sneak up on you, and there you are blubbering in the car, in the bathroom. There you are using the toilet and then you’re crying. It’s like something that you never get used to, but you live with it. The one solace that I have with it is that he knew that I loved him, and I knew that he loved me. I had one of the most ‘wonderfullest’ times with that kid — I’ve had some of the greatest moments of my career with that kid and I look forward to seeing him again — and telling him off.”
Among the most influential groups in the history of popular music, Sly and The Family Stone fused funk, soul, rock and R&B to create a sound that resonated well beyond the charts. Led by the brilliant and charismatic Sly Stone, it was a sound that by turns reflected the idealism of the ’60s, and the fracturing of those ideals in the decade that followed. The band’s performance at the Woodstock festival in 1969 showed a group at the height of their powers, while suggesting a future of unlimited musical possibilities.
Stone (born Sylvester Stewart, March 15, 1944) was the youngest of four of a deeply religious middle-class household from Dallas, Texas. The parents encouraged musical expressions, and Stone excelled in mastering every instrument he touched. Early examples of Stone’s color-blind band dynamics were evident when he became one of the first non-white members of his high school musical group, The Viscaynes, and recorded several solo singles under the name “Danny Stewart.”
By 1964, Stewart had become Sly Stone, a disc jockey for San Francisco R&B radio station KSOL, where he integrated music by white artists into a Black radio playlist. Stone had produced for and performed with Black and white musicians during his early career, so the eventual Sly and the Family Stone sound continued that melting pot, or stew, of many influences and cultures, including James Brown proto-funk, Motown pop, Stax soul, Broadway showtunes and psychedelic rock music.
The Family Stone original founding members — saxophonist Jerry Martini, trumpeter Cynthia Robinson and drummer Greg Errico — are Rock & Roll Hall of fame inductees and still tour the globe featuring the songs of the first interracial, multi-gender band. Wah-wah guitars, distorted fuzz basslines, church-styled organ lines and horn riffs provided the musical backdrop for the vocals of the band’s four lead singers. Stone, Freddie Stone, Larry Graham and Rose Stone traded off on various bars of each verse, a style of vocal arrangement unusual and revolutionary at that time in popular music. Robinson shouted ad-libbed vocal directions to the audience and the band; for example, urging everyone to “get on up and ‘Dance to the Music’” and demanding that “all the squares go home!”
“One of the greatest things that Sly did as part of the line-up, with the original band, there wasn’t no four chicks or all the women in the background and just him out front — we were all on the front line, every one of us,” said Martini. “That’s how it is now. Cynthia really stands out now because she is so dynamic.”
Sly and the Family Stone cut a phenomenal swath through the landscape of popular music in the late 1960s and early 1970s, impacting music festivals and releasing some of the greatest rock and roll music ever recorded. The groups work would go on to influence generations of artists — from Herbie Hancock, who was inspired by Sly’s new funk sound to move towards a more electric sound with his material in1973’s “Head Hunters”; to Miles Davis, who worked with Stone for his 1972 LP “On The Corner”; to as varied a line-up of talents from Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Prince and Chuck D.
“The music was absolutely the catalyst that made it all stick; that gave us the focal point,” explained Errico. “When we went on the road we were a family. We had each other’s back and dealt with all the issues and allegations. It was good, and you’ve go to have that or otherwise you’re not going to make it through the moment. We definitely did have that, and you could feel it in the music and those moments, those recordings that were captured, and you could feel that spirit, that energy and that togetherness. It’s there — it lives in the music.”
But even while crafting great music, the group gradually disintegrated, torn apart by drugs, personality clashes, and the glare of the public spotlight. Stone, now 69, himself became deeply reclusive, his recordings increasingly sporadic, while refusing to grant interviews for decades. On June 25, the story of Sly and the Family Stone kicks off a new season of TV One’s “Unsung,” the NAACP Image Award-winning series celebrating the lives and careers of successful artists or groups who, despite great talent, have not received the level of recognition they deserve or whose stories have never been told. During this groundbreaking episode, Stone emerges to tell that tale, with the help of bandmates and family members — a unique and remarkable musical journey that, after four decades, is still unfolding.
Or, as Martini underscores: “His songs are going to live on — they’re standards.”
Sly and the Family Stone premieres on TV One’s series “Unsung” on Monday, June 25 at 9 p.m. The episode repeats at midnight.
With the mission of rescuing people who are trapped in toxic relationships, TV One presents “Love Addiction,” a riveting reality series premiering at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, April 25.
Under the premise of doing a documentary on relationships, the couples’ relationship patterns are captured on camera, and once the loved one’s destructive situation is established, family and friends gather with one of three relationship experts for an intervention. Ultimately the “love addict” will have to choose: remain in the relationship and risk losing support of their loved ones, or “leave the love-gone-wrong for a life so right.”
“We all know friends or family members who almost serially seem to end up in bad relationships, or who fall under the toxic spell of a bad romance, and we wish we could help them realize how much better they deserve to be treated,” said TV One president and CEO Wonya Lucas. “This series is not only riveting and full of emotion, it also should provide some great advice for those with troubled relationships and even those who want to keep their relationships healthy.”
In the debut episode, which is a doozy, we meet 29-year-old Marcus Foy, the tall, handsome, likeable man-child of Adrienne Nixon, a devoted 50-year-old single mother who lovingly refers to her son as “Mama’s Baby.” An “aspiring musician,” Marcus loves to “beatbox” and do The Dougie. He wears saggy jeans, dyes his hair blonde and has no visible means of support, other than the network of middle-aged women in his life.
Enter Marcus’ “girlfriend” Suzi, who at age 51 is one year older than his mother. A pill-popping, hard-drinking retired Vegas showgirl, Suzi is a walking disaster who is supposedly going through a divorce. Living with Suzi in a home that is completely financed by her estranged husband, Marcus, who wistfully dreams of marrying Suzi, has basically traded in one mother for another. “Sometimes I feel like I’m the boy toy,” he laments.” Ya think?
“Marcus is amazing,” said Suzi. “He makes me feel like a 16-year-old girl sometimes.” In a state of bliss akin to being a trance, Marcus adds, “I feel like our souls are connected in a major way.”
Adrienne, of course, is livid. Not only does she describe Suzi as an “old, brokedown, sorry-ass Vegas dancer,” Adrienne wants grandchildren, which Suzi, who has had a total hysterectomy, cannot provide. “She will NOT marry my son! Over my dead body!” Mama vows.
With the two women fighting over Baby Boy, Marcus’ best friend, Jacob, is also concerned. He misses his buddy, and believes that he’s throwing his life away over an old woman. Since they are both on the same page, Jacob and Adrienne contact relationship expert Hasani Pettiford, who gives marvelous insight throughout the show, to stage an intervention and rescue Marcus from his “Love Addiction.” Will Marcus marry Suzi, or will Adrienne get “her man” back?
Watching “Love Addiction,” which re-airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m., 11 p.m. and midnight, is a bit like watching a train wreck, but I do believe that TV One has another hit on its hands.
With a gorgeous voice and five-octave range, exotic beauty and an intoxicating stage presence, Angela Bofill took the music world by storm. A native New Yorker who grew up in Harlem and the Bronx, she was a trained musician and sophisticated singer who invested ballads like “This Time I’ll be Sweeter” and her ode to heartbreak, “I Try” with palpable emotion. She could belt out hot dance numbers like “Too Tough,” and gospel-inflected inspirational hymns like “I’m on your Side” with equal aplomb. But after a run of hits in the 1980s, she faded rapidly from view, as record labels trained their sights on a younger generation of video vixens.
Bofill soldiered on for two decades, only to be literally silenced by two devastating strokes. Yet she refused to give up her dream and is gradually returning to the stage, while sharing her inspirational life story with hard earned wit and wisdom, on the latest episode of “Unsung”. In anticipation of the documentary, Bofill said, “I am a little bit nervous, and excited at the same time.”
In January 2006, Angela Bofill suffered a massive stroke that left her partially paralyzed and impaired her speech. Like millions of Americans, Bofill was without health coverage at the time. Currently, the vocalist is at home in California recovering. She is able to lift her leg slightly, and with the help of a leg brace is able to take a few steps. She is beginning to have some feeling in her shoulder but still has no mobility in her arm.
The singer continued to share about the life she now leads as a stroke survivor.
“After the stroke, I can not talk a long time, and also I’m wheelchair bound. But now walking around, cane still, and when I get to a wheelchair, that’s good. Also, I'm talking a lot — my daughter says too much.”
With that, Bofill let out a hardy laugh, revealing a solid sense of humor. “I have to laugh; crying not fun, you know? Not fun. But am able and glad to be able to tell my story. Maybe that will help a lot of people and others.”
According to the American Stroke Association, stroke is the third leading cause of death and the leading cause of adult disability in the U.S., and Bofill credits Philadelphian Davida Godett — a three-time stroke survivor — with helping her recover. During the interview, Bofill’s speech is slightly impaired, but she pushes through the words. She explains that she is far better now than even a year ago and is determined to sing again.
Bofill recalled her times performing at (the now shuttered) Bijou Cafe and Zanzibar Blue, and lamented that nowadays she can only sing “Happy Birthday.” The singer then beamed while describing happy sing-a-long moments with her one-year-old grandson.
The award-winning recording artist (American Music Award nominee, Bammy Award and Blackbook Award recipient, to name a few) continued to reminisce about her earlier career. Bofill wowed audiences across the globe and her stellar sold-out performances are only equaled by the love and enthusiasm bestowed upon her by her many fans and colleagues, including Denzel Washington, Mary J. Blige, Aretha Franklin, Lenny Kravitz, Danny Glover, Prince, Santana, the late great Ray Charles and her godfather, Tito Puente.
Bofill says that while singing may be a struggle for her, she still feels the power and exciting in the music. “A chill ... I feel the chill, and that means a good thing, you know,” said Bofill, as she reflects. “That spirit, it helps me to heal. Every day.”
Angela Bofill premieres on TV One’s series “Unsung” on Monday, July 2 at 9 p.m. The episode repeats at midnight.
TV One’s top-rated “Unsung” series of one-hour biographies presents the full picture of Black music in America. These multfaceted artists featured in “Unsung” have contributed significantly to popular culture and to the life memories and experiences of the past three or four generations, yet have either failed to achieve that same level of superstardom — or have compelling life stories, the details of which have largely remained untold.
In 1961, five teenage girls from the sleepy Detroit suburb of Inkster, Mich., began a meteoric rise to fame that would revolutionize Motown, while creating a catalog of popular songs that endure to this day. Plucked from the obscurity of a high school talent show, the Marvelettes were signed on the strength of an original song titled “Please, Mr. Postman.” Within months, the song became Motown’s first number one pop single. But despite an impressive array of follow-up hits like “Beechwood 4-5789,” “Too Many Fish in the Sea,” and the Smokey Robinson-penned classics “Don’t Mess With Bill,” and “The Hunter Gets Captured by the Game,” the Marvelettes remained strangely anonymous, never achieving the stature of rival acts like Martha and the Vandellas or the Supremes. And in the space of a few short years, a stunning series of misfortunes and personal tragedies put an end to the group for good.
Founded in 1960, The Marvelettes were an all-girl group that achieved popularity in the early to mid-1960s. They consisted of schoolmates Gladys Horton, Georgeanna Tillman (later Georgeanna Tillman-Gordon), Juanita Cowart (later Juanita Cowart Motley), Katherine Anderson (later Katherine Anderson Schnaffer) and Georgia Dobbins, who was replaced by Wanda Young prior to the group’s signing their first deal.
“I am so excited, because, really,to be truthful, the Marvelettes never had the opportunity to do anything or be recognized for some of the contributions that they made to the music industry,” said Anderson, 68. “I am really excited for everybody to look at the TV One episode and hear our story — that makes me excited and really, really happy.”
The group ceased performing together in 1969, and, following the release of “The Return of the Marvelettes” in 1970, featuring only Wanda Rogers, the group disbanded for good, with both Rogers and Anderson leaving the music business.
Anderson married, raised three children, held several jobs, wrote a book and is a two- (possibly three-) time stroke survivor. “When I had my first stroke (in 1997), I was paralyzed on my left side. I worked hard and was determined because of the fact I was not going to let it beat me. And then, the bottom line is, vanity kills!”
Anderson then laughed long and hard and said, “You know, when you have had the life that I have had, and I had it from age 16 on, you do have a bit of vanity ,because you learn how to have vanity. I had to learn how to use my hand, how to walk. I’ve had the experience. It’s all good now.”
Despite their early successes, the group was eclipsed in popularity by groups like The Supremes, with whom they shared an intense rivalry, and struggled with issues of dismal promotion by Motown, illnesses, mental breakdowns and group infighting. “It’s pretty much a man’s industry,” explained Anderson. “They don’t really care that much about women being in it. But women always come in it, and they have to show out to show up — and that’s exactly what they do.”
In recent years the group has received several honors, including being named to the Vocal Group Hall of Fame and the Pioneer Award from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation. In 2005, the band’s most successful recordings, “Please Mr. Postman” and “Don’t Mess with Bill” earned them two gold-certified awards from the Recording Industry of America. “I only remember two other girls groups that came out when we came out, and that was The Chantels and The Shirelles,” noted Anderson. “No other girl groups were out. So then I’m a pioneer of the girl groups.”
“The Marvelettes” premieres on TV One’s series “Unsung” on Monday, July 23 at 9 p.m. The episode repeats at midnight.
With plenty of evidence that the truth can indeed be stranger than fiction, TV One will delve into the lives of "victims who have fallen prey to con artists, charlatans and thieves" when the new series "Deceived," chronicling true tales of "love gone wrong," premieres March 25 at 9 p.m.
Joining the network's successful docu-series line-up, including "Life After" and "Celebrity Crime Files," "Deceived" tells the real-life stories of men and women who have been betrayed by someone they trusted through the victims' testimony, re-enactments and interviews with close family members and friends.
"With so many unfortunate examples of romantic deception prevalent in today's pop culture narrative, such as the recent Manti Te'o scenario, "Deceived" further illuminates the theme of emotional vulnerability falling prey to deceptive behavior," commented Toni Judkins, Executive Vice-President of Programming and Production. "Given our audience's interest in docu-series storytelling, we are confident that 'Deceived' will make a strong addition to TV One's growing original programming lineup."
According to the network, Season One of "Deceived" will explore the following real-life tales of fraud and treachery:
"Doctor of Deceit" — A woman is deceived by a charming man posing as a doctor from Chicago.
"False Profit" - A pastor with an appealing real estate investment opportunity cons hundreds of churches out of money, revealing him as a man of greed, rather than a man of God.
"Till Death Do Us Part" — A woman learns of her husband's sinister plans to solve their marital troubles.
"Badge of Dishonor" — A man posing as a police officer brings corruption and villiany to an unsuspecting town.
"Sweetheart Swindler" — A smooth-talking lothario convinces a woman to sell her home and share all of her assets, which soon begin to disappear.
"Double Played" — An athlete with star potential is conned by local sports agents with whom he placed his trust and money.
"Thou Shall Not Steal" — A woman steals thousands of dollars from her local church and vanishes, leaving behind a family in search of answers.
Capitalizing on the current culinary competition trend, TV One presents “My Momma Throws Down,” premiering at 8 p.m., Friday May 4. From the makers of “Iron Chef America,” the fast-paced cooking contest, hosted by comedian and actor Ralph Harris, features “weekly face-offs between kitchen matriarchs to see who will be named the reigning queen of home cuisine.”
Each week, according to the network, two new mothers will compete head-to-head through two rounds to win cash and prizes. Backed by a “lively team of family supporters,” the mothers will demonstrate their skills in the kitchen, as they race against the clock to put their personal spin on classic dishes. A rotating panel of judges made up of celebrities and culinary experts, including James Beard and award-winning chef Marcus Samuelsson, decide each week which contestant deserves the bragging rights as “Top Momma.”
Other celebrity judges during the eight-episode run include Trina and Towanda Braxton; Grammy winner Kandi Burruss of “The Real Housewives of Atlanta; comedian Loni Love; actor Rockmond Dunbar; Grammy-winning songwriter Bryan Michael Cox and boxer/actor/model Ngo Okafor.
In the premiere episode, which repeats at 11 p.m., Momma’s Thea and Marilyn put their spin on squash casserole and two other delicious side dishes. Judging the first episode will be “Soul Food” sisters Nicole Ari Parker, Malinda Williams and Vanessa Williams, who are joined by cookbook author Jessica Harris.
“At its core, ‘My Momma Throws Down’ is a true celebration of the matriarch of the family, placing her passion, skills, down-home expertise and reputation as a great cook on the line for all of America to witness,” said TV One President and CEO Wonya Lucas.
Summer and music go hand in hand, and the latest TV One “Unsung” series helps celebrate the season with several new documentaries. The top-rated series of one-hour biographies recalls the lives and careers of successful artists or groups who, despite great talent, have not received the level of recognition they deserve.
The multi-faceted artists featured on “Unsung” have contributed significantly to popular culture and to the life memories and experiences of the past three or four generations, yet have either failed to achieve that same level of superstardom, or have compelling life stories the details of which have largely remained untold. “Unsung” focuses on gifted musical talents who have played an important role in recent music history, but have not necessarily become household names.
“What better way to celebrate summer than with music, and what better way to celebrate music than with new episodes of Unsung?” said TV One Executive Vice President of original programming and production Toni Judkins. “While we have now produced several dozen episodes of ‘Unsung,’ it t is remarkable that we have no shortage of incredibly talented candidates for new episodes — and our audience continues to want more. The winter 2012 season of ‘Unsung’ was our highest-rated, most-watched season ever, and we look forward to celebrating with our viewers more amazing stories of great talent this summer and helping to paint that richer portrait of Black music in America.”
For the latest episode, the soul funk disco band Con Funk Shun gather for the first time to tell the story of a truly “Unsung” band. With five gold albums and 16 top 40 singles, Con Funk Shun strode across the funk and R&B scene for more than a decade. From their roots as high-school friends in Vallejo, California, they honed their chops at Stax records in Memphis, while developing an irrepressibly danceable sound. With hits like “Fun,” “Shake & Dance With Me,” “Chase Me,” and “Love’s Train,” the group performed in sold-out arenas around the country, while showing off lavish outfits and tightly choreographed moves. But after 17 years together, a succession of personal conflicts caused the band to fall apart. And a decade later, one of their founding members was killed in circumstances at once mysterious and chilling.
Con Funk Shun was formed in Vallejo, California, in 1969 by classmates Louis A. McCall and Michael Cooper. With McCall on drums and percussion and Cooper providing lead vocals and lead guitar, the group went on to include Karl Fuller (trumpet), Paul Harrell (saxophone/flute), Cedric Martin (bass guitar), Danny Thomas (keyboards), and Felton C. Pilate II (trombone/lead vocals). They moved to Memphis in 1973 and got a major record deal with Mercury in 1976.
During their 10 years with Mercury, the band received four RIAA gold album awards and other industry accolades, while performing on major national tours and overseas. The group disbanded in 1986 after lead singers Cooper and Pilate II left for solo careers. Cooper had a few moderate hits while signed to Warner Bros. and Pilate went on to be the musical director and producer for rapper MC Hammer. In 1994, they started appearing together as Con Funk Shun again with sidemen in the place of the original members. The new band appears at old school festivals and nostalgia shows throughout the country.
McCall was murdered in 1997 in a home invasion robbery in Stone Mountain, Ga. His wife, Linda Lou, fought to keep the case active for 11 years, only to see the suspect release on home arrest. For this “Unsung” episode, the remaining original members, along with family and friends, tell the behind-the-scenes story of an important American band.
Con Funk Shun’s documentary premieres on TV One’s series “Unsung” on Monday, July 9 at 9 p.m. The episode repeats at midnight.
TV One recently premiered “Love Addiction,” an engrossing and provocative reality show with the mission of rescuing real people who are trapped in toxic relationships. To say the least, the show has elicited rather strong reactions from its viewers.
Under the premise of doing a documentary on relationships, the couples’ relationship patterns are captured on camera, and once the loved one’s destructive situation is established, family and friends gather with one of three relationship experts for an intervention. Ultimately the “love addict” will have to choose: to remain in the relationship and risk support of their loved ones or to “leave the love-gone-wrong for a life so right.”
One of the experts working hard to save the addicts from themselves is North Jersey resident Hasani Pettiford, founder of the Touch & Agree Family Institute. Author of numerous books including “Black Thighs, Black Guys & Bedroom Lies,” “Pimpin’ From the Pulpit to the Pews” and “Why We Hate Black Women and Why We Should Love Them,” Pettiford also hosted a TV talk show titled “The Relationship Sexpert” and has appeared on numerous radio broadcasts.
“But I’ve never done a reality show before, so this is a new thing for me,” Pettiford said recently of his latest endeavor. “But couples coaching and counseling is something I’ve done, as well and individuals.”
An amiable man with a calm yet confident demeanor, Pettiford explained how he became involved in TV One’s intriguing relationship rescue saying, “They Googled ‘relationship experts,’ and I popped up on a number of websites. What happened was, they looked at some of the work that I’ve done in the past, and they were honest and transparent. They said, ‘We looked at a lot of therapists and doctors and experts, and most of them are just boring. Very clinical. They use terms that are above people’s heads, and they didn’t necessarily work for TV.’ Like I said, they looked at some of the previous shows that I had done and saw, in addition to the professional aspect, the personality that I have, and thought that it would be a great fit.”
Given the fleeting quality of many of today’s relationships, people often wonder aloud what entitles any individual to be labeled a “relationship expert,” and without hesitation, Pettiford listed his qualifications.
“I’m a marriage and family therapist, so I got trained in that,” he said. “But in addition to that, I probably have read, literally, at least 300, 400 books on the topic, I’ve written 12, and after 12 years of my own personal experience in interviewing others and assessing other people’s relationships, and putting all those pieces together, I have a unique perspective and insight on relationships in general. So all of that wisdom over the course of these many years has given me, I guess, the expertise that I have in the ability to connect with people, and give them tangible solutions that ultimately affect their relationships, or their lives in a positive way.”
With that being said, the obvious question would be, “What is Pettiford’s personal relationship status? As an “expert,” is his “wisdom” and “expertise” effective in his own life? Or does he have some personal baggage that would limit or even nullify his credibility when it comes to dispensing advice?
“Great question!” Pettiford exclaimed. “The number one question is, ‘Who do you listen to?’ Do you go to a person who makes $40,000.00 for the million dollar idea? No! That’s the wrong person. I’ve been married now, happily, for 10 years this October, and I have four beautiful daughters, so I’m the only male in the house.
“In terms of my family background, my parents are still together, going on 36, 37 years, all my aunts and uncles are still married, my grandparents were together until my grandfather died. So I don’t come from an environment where divorce ever existed. I don’t understand the concept, so I guess that’s a part of my whole makeup, because my philosophy is that once you get married, it should be for life, and outside the obvious, we should work towards our marriage. Unfortunately, it’s so easy for us to get a divorce, because we really didn’t have the proper foundation when we decided to get married.”
While Pettiford allows that not every “Love Addiction” can be resolved during the course of a 90-minute episode, he believes that the “seeds” of progress can be sown.
“You never know that true transformation is going to take place,” he said in conclusion. “There haven’t been any couples thus far that I’ve encountered that I wasn’t able to pull them out of a turbulent or toxic relationship. We were able to break through and help them see, along with their family and friends, why what they were in was really unhealthy and no good for them.” “Love Addiction” airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on TV One.
Rarely has a group risen so high and fallen so fast as Arrested Development (AD). This captivating musical collective stormed to the top of the charts with an exhilarating brand of countrified rap that mixed the spirit of Sly and the Family Stone with the political charge of Public Enemy, providing a positive alternative to more confrontational gangsta stylings. Their debut album “3 Years, 5 Months and 2 Days in the Life Of...,” which chronicled the time it took the group to get a record deal, sold four million copies and sparked three top ten hits: “Tennessee,” “Mr. Wendal” and “People Everyday.” It also won two Grammys, including the coveted Best New Artist award in 1993, the first time hip-hop had ever taken that prize.
And then it all abruptly fell apart, as internal feuding over control, direction and money belied the group’s idealistic vibe. By the time Arrested Development began work on their second album, they had split into two camps and were communicating with each other through agents and managers. After just two albums of original material, Arrested Development called it quits. Now mostly reunited, the members of this pioneering band reveal the full story of a group who flew high, fell far, and survived to tell the tale.
“The truth is that it has been 20 years removed,” explains AD’s front man Speech. “A lot of beefs that we had, in fact to be honest, all of the beefs that we’ve had, have been reconciled for a while now, say about 10 years or so. We all respect, and even love one another to some extent. When you’ve lived through such highlights and such amazing journeys that we’ve been through with each other, you have a kindred spirit. you know what you’ve been through with each other, and no one can replace that, so there’s a certain bond that comes with the territory.”
AD continues to be a music group that respects women, promotes family, spirituality and male responsibility. Their music addresses consciousness, the earth, African self-determination and love. They call their live shows celebrations. They celebrate the power of life, the certainty of death and struggles of the ancestors. This month, the group released with a mixtape called, “Standing At The Crossroads”.
“From the very beginning, we always wanted to do message music and include the spiritual component to the music,” explained Speech. “It one thing about politics, but then to me, the essence of everybody is our spirit. Our spirit is what tells us what to do. It’s what drives us in the morning and the evening. I became a Christian 17 years ago, and that helped me to really understand a lot more about spirit; what we were created for, purpose and how we can shine the light that God has planted inside of us to the world so that people can also see their way around as well. So its an amazing thing that I was introduced through God.”
Arrested Development premieres on TV One’s series “Unsung” on Aug. 13 at 9 p.m. The episode repeats at midnight. AD’s 20th Anniversary Tour comes to Philadelphia on Sept. 27 at 8 p.m. at The Blockley Pourhouse, 3801 Chestnut St. For information, call (215) 222-1234. For a free download of 13 of AD’s new songs, visit http://newarresteddevelopment.com/.