Art

Deep City Records Documentary: A Behind the Scenes Look

South Florida in the 1960s was a hotbed of live soul, funk, rhythm, and blues; and Deep City Records was Liberty City's answer to Motown. Two public school teachers named Willie Clarke and Johnny Pearsall pooled their resources and formed the first black owned label in Florida. They based themselves out of Johnny's Record Shop in the heart of the city and began recording and promoting local talent. Eventually, disagreement over whether Pearsall's wife Helene Smith or Clarke's discovery, Betty Wright, should be the star of the label led to the end of Deep City. But the music lives on forever.

Now, the Knight Foundation's Dennis Scholl, and his Emmy winning team of local moviemakers -- Marlon Johnson, Chad Tingle, Art Nobo, and Mike Pijuan -- are making a documentary about it.

They recently shot a scene with industry pioneer Henry Stone, who took Willie Clarke and his discoveries (namely Clarence Reid, Betty Wright, and Little Beaver) into his fold, and converted their talent into global hits for what became TK Records.

KEEP NEW TIMES BROWARD-PALM BEACH FREE... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Jacob Katel