Harrison, who was a co-producer on Criminal Minds and co-exec producer on All Rise, will oversee the Mississippi blues drama for Ozark producer Zero Gravity Management.
The move also reunites her with Evan Ross, who she worked with as a co-exec producer on Fox’s Star and who stars alongside Howard.
The series is a one-hour drama based on true events that chronicles the story of W.C. Handy, sometimes referred to as the Father of the Blues. Empire star Howard, who reversed his decision to retire to star in the project, will also make his directorial debut on the project.
It is based on a script from Ellen Perry, Zachery Anderson, Edwin B. Shackeroff and Trudy Davies.
Set in the Mississippi Delta in 1903, Delta Blues centers on the journey of a minstrel named W.C. Handy as he begins to document, perform, and publish the music that would become known as the Blues. By altering melody lines, changing words and musical notations of the songs he composes, Handy makes old materials new and seemingly his own and becomes the country’s very first black music mogul.
In the Delta, Handy, who later becomes world famous with his No. 1 hit, Saint Louis Blues, crosses paths with some of history’s most well-known names and others that history forgot to record. Delta Landing was the metropolitan crossroads of the South, a bustling economy that brought people of all walks of life together. Some looking for fortune and fame and others just for a good time. It was the intersection of race relations under Jim Crow, where being free always came with a cost. This story is the true history of music and the untold history of America: Red, White, Black…and the Blues.
The show is being exec produced by Zero Gravity Management, which is behind hit Netflix drama Ozark that recently scored a fourth and final season, and Netflix’s Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker.
Harrison said, “This is truly a dream project for me especially, given my family’s Mississippi roots. Although it’s been over a century since Delta Blues took place, its timelessness reflects some of the same political and social issues we’re still experiencing today. We’re going to tap into the history behind the history, and finally give these iconic figures of the African American community a platform to have their stories told. Imagine the inspiration gleaned from Handy, a man who in creating the blues, laid the foundation for the artists and music of today, starting from his humble minstrel beginnings to building a music publishing empire.”
She added that Howard and Ross have already started the process of recording original music for the series, which Zero Gravity has yet to take out to broadcasters and streamers. “There are many surprises in store for viewers and a wealth of historical characters whose real life stories deserve to be told and add a richness to this series that I and the producers at Zero Gravity and BCII are excited to share.”
Harrison is repped by Verve and managed by Matt Ochacher at The Nacelle Company.