GOOD GOLLY MISS MOLLY!
Occasionally in life, we encounter those whose depth, personality, and energy are unmatchable. I was introduced to Little Richard’s music as a grade-school-aged kid on a road trip with my dad. “Tutti Fruti” came on the radio, and he cranked it up. He was intent on informing me that we would not have Rock and Roll without Little Richard. The 2023 documentary, I Am Everything, covers his influence on rockers like Mick Jagger, The Beatles Jimmy Hendrix, and David Bowie to name a few.
The film chronicles his religious upbringing where he went to the Baptist church on Sunday morning but spent that evening in the AME church with his dad where he cut his teeth in gospel music. Little Richard, like so many artists of this era, played a vast range of venues from churches to speakeasies. Little Richard was known for playing in drag in the chitlin circuit, and despite what the record companies would have the public believe, Little Richard was a queer artist. One defining moment of this documentary was when one of the interviewees defined queerness as “a presence that is different in a space.” When Little Richard was recording his first album, the producers wanted him to sing like B.B. King, but Richard said that all that music was just too slow for him. Seeing the footage of his early performances makes the revolutionary element of his music obvious. Can you imagine a time when being a teenager is a new concept? Then you go out for a show and see performances by Little Richard, Bo Didley, The Everly Brothers, and The Rolling Stones (as an opening act). Damn!
I Am Everything shines more than flattery on Little Richard’s legacy. This film documents the struggle within Richard, between being a queer artist and a religious man. It shines light on his financial struggles, which are a testament to the corruption of the music industry. We are made aware of the fact that, like many other black artists, Little Richard was not given the recognition he deserved for his work and innovation. The film also ceases from shying away from showing you exactly how Little Richard felt about all of this. Most of all, this documentary is a testimony to Little Richard’s legacy as it lives on through the beloved genre of Rock and Roll.
There will be a one-night-only theatrical event happening in 500 theaters across the US on April 11, 2023. You can go to https://www.littlericharddocumentary.com for more information.
About Nathan Conrad:
He’s best known as the Nashville-based Hip Hop/Indie Pop emcee Spoken Nerd, but this isn’t your typical rap project. He rhymes playfully at times, singing and/or rapping, juxtaposing his style with real-life situations and subject matter. Occasionally Spoken Nerd will find inspiration in films and will put it into song. With eight full-length albums into his career, the rapper has built a healthy catalog of music, which doesn’t include the number of EPs and singles released. His most recent release is the collaborative effort Grapes, with Juan Cosby.