Last night as part of their Rock Docs segment, VH-1 premiered the documentary Finding the Funk. Directed by acclaimed author Nelson George, it documented the history of funk music, going inside the genre’s history, definition, and of course the legendary artists and the places of where it hailed from.
Of course, the documentary focuses on funk’s most legendary artists; James Brown, Sly and the Family Stone, Parliament-Funkadelic, Earth Wind & Fire and Prince. It talked about the reasons why these artists were hugely influential not only in this genre, but in music as a whole. Those reasons included Parliament-Funkadelic’s eccentric and comical styles, Sly and Family Stone’s interracial lineup which also featured women, Prince’s reign in the 1980s, and of course the landmark recordings including Sly and the Family Stone’s Stand, James Brown live recordings, and Earth Wind & Fire’s “Shining Star”.
Though Finding the Funk focused on places of where the music and artists originated from including New Orleans and the San Francisco Bay Area, it shined the biggest light on Dayton, Ohio. Despite not being as well known in the music world like Chicago, Atlanta, San Francisco, or even Seattle, the city is notable from hailing numerous funk bands including Ohio Players, Heatwave, and Roger Troutman & Zapp. Other interesting finds in the documentary includes LaBelle having the same stylist as KISS, and funk’s New Orleans origins.
With interviews ranging from legends like George Clinton, Sly Stone, and Bootsy Collins to newer artists like Michael “Mike-D” Diamond of the Beastie Boys and D’Angelo, Finding the Funk has truly shed a huge light on the genre, and showed how it influenced the music world as a whole.