PHILADELPHIA (TNS) — The Philly Sound is going to the movies.
“The Sound of Philadelphia,” a new documentary film, will tell the story of songwriters and producers Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff and Thom Bell, architects of the Philadelphia soulful sound that was a dominant musical and cultural force in the 1970s. The film is currently in production with a team that includes Oscar-winning and Emmy-winning documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney.
Gamble, Huff & Bell – known collectively as “The Mighty Three” – have a shared catalog of over 3,500 songs, whose countless hits include The O’Jays’ “Back Stabbers”, “Me & Mrs. Jones” by Billy Paul, “The Delfonics”. “La-La (means I love you)”, “You are everything” from The Stylistics and many more.
The heavyweight team behind the ‘Sound of Philadelphia’ movie includes Gibney, director of ‘Enron: The Smartest Men In the Room’ and ‘Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief’, who serves as executive producer, and director Sam Pollard , whose credits include recent docs “Mr. Soul!” and “Sammy Davis: Gotta Be Me.” Ron Howard and Brian Grazer are also executive producers.
The news comes on the heels of the 50th anniversary celebration in 2021 of Philadelphia International Records, the label founded by Gamble and Huff. Their roster of artists included Paul, The O’Jays, Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, Patti LaBelle, McFadden & Whitehead, The Three Degrees and others.
Gamble, Huff and Bell have a publishing partnership under the name Mighty Three, but Bell, known for his work with the Spinners and Elton John, as well as the Stylistics and Delfonics, worked independently and did not own PIR.
In a joint statement, Gamble and Huff said, “After six decades, we are incredibly proud to finally share our life stories with the world and show all the hard work that has gone into creating this great music. 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 long-time fans and new fans will get a unique insight into the creation of the Sound of Philadelphia with the themes of empowerment and love, for “people around the world”, because we have always had a “Message in our music!!!'”
The film only recently began production and there is no word yet on a timeline or destination for its release, a spokesperson said.
“The Sound of Philadelphia” should not be confused with “Wake Up Everybody,” the Bill Nicoletti-directed documentary that took years to prepare.
It will also tell the story of the Philly sound, with a broader focus centered on Sigma Sound Studios, the Center City recording center founded by engineer Joe Tarsia that was a base for PIR and also used by artists like Todd Rundgren and David Bowie. Nicoletti previously directed the documentary “Once in a Hundred Years: The Life & Legacy of Marian Anderson”.
“Wake Up Everybody,” which counts University of Pennsylvania graduate John Legend and NBC meteorologist Al Roker among its executive producers, will premiere on Comcast’s Peacock streaming service this summer, Nicoletti said, and will also be presented at certain theatrical screenings and film festivals.