Syl Johnson to Be Explored in New Documentary

Syl Johnson to Be Explored in New Documentary
Soul singer Syl Johnson's long career was spotlighted back in 2010 via the Numero Group's expansive Complete Mythology box set, but many facets of the artist's life are expected be brought to light in an upcoming documentary.

The label reports that their Michael Slaboch, along with Rob Hatch-Miller and Puloma Basu, has been working on Syl Johnson: Any Way the Wind Blows since 2009. Today (July 9), the filmmakers unveiled a Kickstarter campaign to help raise funds for the project.

The film is presented in a cinema verité style, with cameras following Johnson doing his day to day between 2009 and now. It will also apparently use animation, archival footage and interviews to tell his story.

The film is said to cover Johnson's early days, a late '60s stretch on Twinight Records, his retirement, and how his music was later sampled by the likes of Run-DMC, Public Enemy, De La Soul, Boogie Down Productions, Kid Rock and Cypress Hill. It will likely also home in on the high-profile court case launched against Kanye West and Jay-Z, after they used an uncleared sample of his "Different Strokes" on Watch the Throne bonus track "The Joy."

Other areas expected to be covered are his time spent founding his Solomon's Fisheries fast food chain, a divorce, a decline that left him homeless for a time, and his eventual return to the music scene.

"Syl Johnson: Any Way the Wind Blows is more than just the story of a forgotten musician finding success late in life," the producers said in a statement. "Syl is a deeply complex person and an ideal subject for a documentary. He is, in turns, charming and combative, playful and arrogant, paranoid and wise. More than once he's referred to himself as 'a multi-talented genius.' We want to produce a film that explores Syl Johnson's story with depth and honesty, while also introducing his music to a wider audience. "

The filmmakers are hoping to raise $40,000 by August 8. Among other things, Funds will go towards travelling around the U.S. to interview RZA, Prince Paul and Pete Rock — who have all sampled Johnson — as well as members of the singer's Hi Rhythm Section and employees of Memphis's Royal Studios.

The filmmakers are currently offering a number of incentives to potential backers, including posters, a digital download of the film once it's finished, T-shirts, LPs and CDs, private screening and more. You can find out more info here.

The film is expected to hit the festival circuit by late 2014 or early 2015.