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AM I BLACK ENOUGH FOR YOU?
UK: Verve Pictures
Cast: Billy Paul, Blanche Williams, Kenny Gamble, Clive Davis, Questlove, Schoolly D
Director: Göran Olsson
Countries: Norway / Denmark / Finland
UK: 90 mins
UK Certificate: 12A contains infrequent strong language, sexualised nudity and drug references
UK Release Date: 3 July 2009 (Limited Release)
UK DVD Release Date: 21 September 2009
AM I BLACK ENOUGH FOR YOU? tells the story of legendary Philadelphia soul artist Billy Paul, his life long companionship with his wife Blanche, and of how the oppression of Afro-Americans and the civil rights movement gave rise to the birth of Soul music.
Particularly well known for his song, "Me and Mrs Jones" which became a smash hit on both sides of the Atlantic in the seventies, Paul's follow up single, "Am I Black Enough For You?" flopped, and it was a failure that nearly cost Paul his career. Looking back it seems that the lyrics offered too radical a message for the majority of the white market of the seventies.
But if the song had such a radical message, enough to turn away a huge number of fans, why was it released? The answer lies in the relationship between Paul and his record executive Kenny Gamble. Gamble and those around him were prepared to sanction and encourage the release of a single they knew could irreparably damage Paul's career for the sake of the message it contained. This was a time in which political affiliations, ambitions and assertions came above friendship and personal success.
As a rare example of a successful black American, did Paul have an obligation to act as a leader for his race? AM I BLACK ENOUGH FOR YOU? seeks to answer this question and to help us comprehend the lived experience of racism in America during this period.