EXCLUSIVE: The story of Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff, and Thom Bell, who created the sound of Philly Soul, is to be chronicled in a new feature documentary.
Sam Pollard, director of Mr. Soul!, MLK/FBI and Citizen Ashe, will direct The Sound of Philadelphia with Alex Gibney, director of docs including Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, set as exec producer.
The doc, which will tell the story of the sound of late ’60s/early ’70s soul music, comes from Warner Music Entertainment, publishing company Warner Chappell Music and Imagine Documentaries in partnership with Gibney’s Jigsaw Productions.
The Sound of Philadelphia will include exclusive interviews and never-before-seen footage featuring the songwriters and producers Gamble, Huff, and Bell – known as The Mighty Three. It will explore how the founders of the legendary record label Philadelphia International Records, crafted their sound and navigated the music business.
The trio wrote and produced songs including “Love Train” by The O’Jays, “If You Don’t Know Me Now” by Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, “Me and Mrs. Jones by Billy Paul” and “TSOP” by MFSB and the Three Degrees – known for its use as the Soul Train theme song.
It will also explore their work with the likes of The Jacksons, Dusty Springfield, Lou Rawls, The Three Degrees, Patti LaBelle, Nancy Wilson, Elton John, The Temptations and The Supremes.
The feature doc will be exec produced by Gibney, Pollard, Imagine’s Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Sara Bernstein, and Justin Wilkes, Warner Music Entertainment’s Charlie Cohen, Warner Chappell Music’s Ashley Winton, Jigsaw’s Stacey Offman, Richard Perello, and Erin Edeiken and Unigram’s Amanda Ghost and Gregor Cameron.
“After six decades, we are incredibly proud to finally share our life stories with the world and showcase all the hard work that has gone into creating this great music,” said Gamble, Huff and Bell. “We are even more excited to be working with the incredible teams at Imagine and Warner Music, as well as Alex Gibney and Sam Pollard. Our longtime fans and new fans will get a unique look into the creation of the Sound of Philadelphia with the themes of empowerment and love, to ‘people all over the world’ as we’ve always had a ‘Message in our Music.’”
Gibney said, “I am thrilled to co-produce this film about these exceptional songwriters, whose words and music continue to have an impact. And pleased to be working again with my friend Sam Pollard – who produced and edited Sinatra: All or Nothing At All, a fine director with a profound understanding of music.”
Pollard added, “I was absolutely delighted when I was approached about directing a feature length doc about the extraordinary music creators Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff and Thom Bell. They made superstars out of artists that previously toiled in obscurity, through songs of peace, love, social conscience, and turmoil. I’m looking forward to working with my dear friend Alex Gibney again as we shine a light on the powerful, sophisticated, and timeless Sound of Philadelphia.”
Warner Music Entertainment President, Charlie Cohen, said, “Kenny, Leon, and Thom’s lasting impact on music and our culture at large cannot be understated. Their music is timeless, with the messages in their songs still resonating today. When Ashley Winton and the team at Warner Chappell brought us this idea, we immediately knew we had something special. And now with Alex Gibney and Sam Pollard signed on to lend their creative visions to the project, we’re excited to see this story come to life.”
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