The PBS series "Independent Lens," hosted by Maggie Gyllenhall, will begin the new year by rolling out four music documentarys that provide viewers and music enthusiasts with diverse perspectives on the art and business of modern music. Starting with a group of unexpected artists who inspire, delight, and entertain, to a young girl's struggles to become the youngest rapper ever, to behind-the-scenes looks at the hip-hop industry, "Independent Lens" presents four weeks of captivating programming to kick off the Winter/Spring 2010 lineup.
Get ready to rock with the most entertaining golden oldies you will ever meet in Stephen Walker's "[email protected]
" (January 12), featuring the New England senior citizens chorus. With a show only weeks away, they must learn a slate of new songs ranging from James Brown to Coldplay. The director leads the chorus through tough rehearsals, proving that rock and roll can be hard work -- especially if you're hard of hearing! Climaxing in a triumphant performance, their inspiring story celebrates the unbreakable bonds of friendship and the life-affirming power of music.
"Independent Lens" then presents three docs that examine the world of hip-hop music.
Benjamin Franzen and Kembrew McLeod's "COPYRIGHT CRIMINALS" (January 19) examines the creative and commercial value of music sampling and its implications, featuring Public Enemy, De La Soul, and George Clinton. As hip-hop rose from the streets of New York to become a multibillion-dollar industry, artists such as Public Enemy and De La Soul began reusing parts of previously recorded music for their songs. But when record company lawyers got involved everything changed. Years before people started downloading and remixing music, hip-hop sampling sparked a debate about copyright, creativity, and technological change that still rages today.
Also airing is an encore presentation of "Independent Lens" favorite Byron Hurt's seminal "HIP-HOP: Beyond Beats and Rhymes" (January 26). Featuring interviews with rappers Mos Def, Fat Joe, Chuck D, and Jadakiss, as well as mogul Russell Simmons, the doc goes beyond the bling to explore gender roles in hip-hop and rap through the lens of college quarterback-turned-activist Byron Hurt.
Rounding out the music doc collection is Gabriel Noble's "P-STAR RISING" (February 2), a story about the naturally talented nine-year-old rapper, Priscilla, aka P-Star, who wants to become the youngest female rap star ever. With her single father turned manager, Priscilla travels from Harlem street corners to sold-out shows around the world -- eventually landing a record deal and starring role on PBS's "The Electric Company." But the road to stardom means figuring out who to trust while hanging around people twice her size and four times her age. For Priscilla, otherwise known as P-Star, the ride has just begun.