Still from Little Richard: I Am Everything (CNN Films/HBO Max)

Little Richard is one of the architects of rock n’ roll, but how many people honor that fact? The new documentary Little Richard: I Am Everything aims to put respect on Little Richard’s name once and for all.

Directed by Lisa Cortés, the film takes a close look at Little Richard–born Richard Penniman–and his life, including his lasting effect on pop music. Music legends including Mick Jagger, Billy Porter, John Waters, Tom Jones, and others lend their voices to discuss what it was about Little Richard that made him an icon.

According to the official description:

Produced by Bungalow Media + Entertainment for CNN Films and HBO Max, in association with Rolling Stone Films, director Lisa Cortés’ Sundance opening night documentary LITTLE RICHARD: I AM EVERYTHING tells the story of the Black queer origins of rock n’ roll, exploding the whitewashed canon of American pop music to reveal the innovator – the originator – Richard Penniman. Through a wealth of archive and performance that brings us into Richard’s complicated inner world, the film unspools the icon’s life story with all its switchbacks and contradictions.  In interviews with family, musicians, and cutting-edge Black and queer scholars, the film reveals how Richard created an art form for ultimate self-expression, yet what he gave to the world he was never able to give to himself. Throughout his life, Richard careened like a shiny cracked pinball between God, sex and rock n’ roll. The world tried to put him in a box, but Richard was an omni being who contained multitudes – he was unabashedly everything.

Little Richard: I Am Everything will come to theaters in a one-night-only screening April 11 through Magnolia Pictures. Additional theatrical releases and a digital release is set for April 21.

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The Book of Awesome Black Americans

Also, if you’d like to learn more about Little Richard’s mentors and contemporaries, check out my book, The Book of Awesome Black Americans, to read up others who are considered fellow architects of rock n’ roll.

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