About the Film
The Hampton Roads region of Virginia boasted an incredibly vibrant rhythm and blues scene in the 1960s. Rising from the African American clubs of Church Street, the Norfolk Sound became nationally known for its raw soul and infectious dance beats. Among the chart-topping local artists who emerged from the Norfolk R&B scene are Gary U.S. Bonds, Jimmy Soul, and Gene “Daddy G” Barge. Lesser-known, but equally masterful, was Charlie McClendon, a brilliant musician, composer, and producer. Anyone with a passion for the Norfolk Sound has enjoyed Charlie’s playing, though they may not be aware of it. They likely have heard Charlie’s band backing seminal recordings on Norfolk’s famed Legrand label or supporting nationally known artists that came through Hampton Roads. Serious collectors in the U.S. and abroad covet his locally popular recordings on the L-Rev label. And lovers of Hampton Roads gospel music have undoubtedly enjoyed Charlie’s performing, compositions, and production work. His impressive career in R&B and gospel spans almost sixty years, and at age eighty-five, he shows no signs of slowing down. Produced by Virginia State Folklorist Jon Lohman with Pat Jarrett, this short film catches up with Charlie and several key individuals involved in his early experiences as a “cross-over” artist, and recounts the spiritual experience which led him to suddenly abandon rhythm and blues for gospel music.