A new documentary about seminal soul singer Teddy Pendergrass, If You Don’t Know Me, will premiere February 8th at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Showtime.
Olivia Lichtenstein directed the film, which will feature rare archival footage of Pendergrass, as well as interviews with the singer’s friends, family and music industry colleagues like Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. Pendergrass’ famed former manager, Shep Gordon, served as one of the film’s executive producers.
If You Don’t Know Me will chronicle Pendergrass’ entire career, from his childhood in Philadelphia during the Sixties to his rise to fame as the lead singer of Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, and then as a solo artist. It will also look at Pendergrass’ remarkable comeback after a 1982 car crash nearly killed him. While the accident paralyzed Pendergrass from the chest down, he went on to deliver an emotional performance at Live Aid in 1985 and release five more albums. Pendergrass died in 2010.
In an October interview with Variety, Lichtenstein noted that the car crash likely prevented Pendergrass from becoming a huge mainstream star like Marvin Gaye or Luther Vandross. She added that she hoped If You Don’t Know Me would introduce the singer to a new audience.
“The way he sings is so authentic it can’t fail to touch you, whatever your age and whatever generation you are from,” Lichtenstein said. “[Producer] Danny Markus, when he saw a cut of the film, said, ‘You let him sing again,’ which is something we wanted to achieve, so it was nice to feel that has worked.”