Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Lisa Cortés of the documentary Little Richard: I Am Everything had the Texas Premiere at this year’s SXSW Film & TV Festival. I loved the movie and learning about his impact and accomplishments. If Little Richard fans missed this at the festival in March, here is an opportunity to view the film as it is now available at the AFS Cinema in Austin with additional screenings added.

The film presents so much information about Little Richard (born in Macon, Georgia, in the early 1930s) from his early years as a child, his family, and where he performed. There are many clips of interviews and appearances, and performances via concert footage. This footage shows the audience what he played, what he wore, and how he engaged with his audience. Little Richard died in 2020 at the age of 87.

There are many interview subjects, from scholars to peers and those he influenced and knew personally. Among them are Mick Jagger, John Waters, and Billy Porter. There is footage of him with the very young Beatles and, later, Paul McCartney singing and screaming. Lady Java had a nightclub act in the mid-’60s where Little Richard was in attendance, which resulted in a lifelong friendship. “Lady Java (born 1943) is an American transgender rights activist, exotic dancer, singer, comedian, and actress.” – Wikipedia. Lady Java provides information tenderly as a friend who saw his changes through the years.

There are some clips of awards shows in which he participated. At the 1988 Grammys, he and Buster Poindexter (David Johansen, former frontman of the New York Dolls) presented an award together, but not before Little Richard had his say about the pompadour hair on Buster, stating he used to wear his hair like that. He declares himself “the architect of rock ‘n’ roll” and how he had not been recognized for his contributions. The second awards show he was very vocal about was the 1989 induction of Otis Redding into the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame, and he performed Redding songs.
My favorite awards clip is from the 1997 Merit Award at the American Music Awards. Among his statements, he said, “Rhythm and blues had a baby, and somebody named it rock ‘n roll.” He cried. I cried and was so happy for him, finally receiving recognition.
I don’t want to spoil it more for any fan who wants to see the film

Little Richard: I Am Everything, as it is available in the theater, continuing on May 5, 2023.

Source: Magnolia Pictures

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