Undeniable - The Story of the Independent Soul Music Movement

: Documentary Feature
GENRE: Documentary
STATUS: Production


Coined everything from “Indie Soul” to the “Honest Music Movement,” ‘Undeniable’ traces the heretofore untold stories of artists and music lovers right from its late 1990s origins through the halcyon days of the mid-2000s to the lawless rule of today where throughout the collective goal is still to develop, maintain, and grow a space in the global cultural landscape for this multi-tentacle brand of “honest music.”


When President Bill Clinton signed the Telecommunications Act of 1996, he ushered in a Wild, Wild West era of entertainment media consolidation that led to the eventual mainstream lockout of the niche singer, genre musician, and local broadcast radio DJ, resulting in the homogenization of radio music and major record label signings. This period also introduced Napster and an unprecedented era of Internet-based musical piracy that has conditioned a generation to view music as a commodity absent any market value and whose ownership should be free, shuttering both major and “mom and pop” record stores globally.

Struggling to survive this rapid confluence of events was the urban music market and genre artists that catered to mature audiences and soul, funk, urban adult contemporary and other R&B niches. Musicians who once could work their way to mainstream prominence with the right hit, promotional push, or even an impactful local DJ spinning their song into a regional hit, now had to relearn a whole new and ever-evolving industry on how to create and sell a hit. In this emerging DIY environment, even the industry experts were scratching their heads in trying to determine how artists and the label/management/producers/lawyers system that had fed off of them could still make a living from this art.

Far from bereft, what arose from the merge and fall of a bloated, yet narrowing major label system that had abused its consumer base for decades, was what is now a15-year resistance movement of artists, promoters, bloggers, independent labels, internet radio DJs, and emerging online sellers (e.g., CD Baby, Bandcamp, etc.) that has kept the various genres of R&B/soul music alive and maturing often out of the mainstream spotlight. As important is the story of how these new, largely “underground” releases were being supported by a maturing market of buyers, age groups conditioned to still buy CDs, that was being ignored in the majors’ short-sighted chase of an increasingly apathetic, unemployed youth market. Now 15 years since its regional webs of artist and stakeholder pockets began this resistance movement by stepping out of Big Radio and the majors’ shadows, the major questions 'Undeniable' explores is “how did we get here?" and "what’s next?”


My ultimate artistic vision is to create a film that captures the pulse and vibrancy of a musical movement that began in the late 1990s, and continues to grow and progress to this day. I want to illustrate the raw emotion that flows from the artists, into their musical art, and out to the worldwide fan base that has supported and loved these performers honestly and wholeheartedly for over 3 decades. I want this film to evoke an emotional response in the viewer that leads to a yearning to know more about the world of Independent Soul Music, it's artists, and their music.


John C. Jointer - Director/ Producer, Founder - TruSoul Entertainment Event Productions, LLC

 Since the age of 18, John C Jointer has been a working part of the arts and entertainment world. He began by promoting and hosting local college parties featuring well-known Chicago DJs. Over the next 15 years, John's events would be a staple at various venues around the city. Then, in 2008, John Jointer began to manage a soul/R&B duo named Innosphere. Under John's management, Innosphere would go on to record and release their debut EP, "Shine", which received critical acclaim and rave reviews in major local and national print and online publications such as the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times, Okayplayer.com, Vibe.com, URB Magazine, among others.

In 2011, John C Jointer was hired by the Pradagi Foundation, a Chicago based non-profit organization that focused on educating inner-city youth on the various career opportunities with the entertainment industry, to be a producer on their short-lived PBS TV series, "Keeping Success PURE". While there, John was responsible for coordinating and securing over 80% of the content for the series, as well as being responsible for securing the television broadcast deal between the Pradagi Foundation and PBS affiliate WYCC-TV Chicago.

In 2012, John decided to take the step from television into film. He combined the experiences and industry contacts gained during his time managing Innosphere and producing the PBS TV series "Keeping Success PURE", to produce and direct his debut documentary film, "Undeniable - The Story Of The Independent Soul Music Movement".

Abby Harris - Producer, Co-Founder - Quartermain Media

 Quartermain Media is a production company birthed from the passion and creativity of James Woods, Jr. and Alberlynne “Abby” Harris. Initially specializing in commercials and music videos for small businesses and independent artists, the company has finally embarked on the production of episodic television, webisodes, and feature films. Current projects in development include “The Formula” a hip-hop webisode series, “Strut!” a fashion and beauty focused episodic series, “Outspoken” a now-generation news program, “Undeniable” a documentary about the Independent Soul Music Movement, and “Street Address” a documentary about homelessness in Southern California.

Duane E. Powell - Producer

 Chicago based DJ, blogger, promoter and tastemaker whose origins in music go all the way back to the soul music scene of the early 70's having legends like The Emotions, Chaka Khan, The Staple Singers and Minnie Riperton as family friends and classmates of family. Also having the love passed down from uncles that were DJ's until the mid-80's.

1985 is the year when Duane began getting his feet wet in street promotions for prominent djs including Lil Louis and others on the burgeoning house music scene of Chicago. By 1990, Duane had done street promotions and marketing for many of the clubs, djs and also served as their consultant. In 1998, he became an import buyer for Cargo Music Distribution and by the end of that year, an employer at Dr Wax Records, one of Chicago's most legendary record stores. It was his 12 years there that the title of tastemaker really took shape by him almost single handedly cultivating the underground soul scene in Chicago, breaking several artist in the market including Ledisi, Eric Roberson, Julie Dexter, Jill Scott and many many more.

As a promoter, he launched the SOUNDROTATION brand in 1999 and many of those acts got their first Chicago concerts at his events. As a DJ, he had an internet radio program on Swank Society and has spun and has residencies at many of the most popular venues around the city including the House Of Blues, The Funky Buddha Lounge, Park 52 and Reggie's Music Club where his event, Vibracao do Sol, is the hottest weekly in Chicago soulful nightlife.

Growing out of the soul music scene of the 70's, the house scene of the 80's, the acid jazz era of the 90's, into the neo-soul and electrosoul movements of recent years, has made for one well rounded, knowledgeable and eclectic dj and music lover.

Vincent Buckley - Producer

 Vincent Buckley studied film/video and sequential art at the Savannah College of Art and Design before working in film/tv in California and the Midwest. He has shot documentaries on a wide-range of subjects including Billboard Award-winners Kinto Sol, Badger Region Volleyball, and Voces de la Frontera. Music video work has included directing, shooting, and editing for Sony, Universal, and independent artists.

Dru Montague - Dir. Of Photography

 Since graduating from Virginia Tech's Cinema Studies and Production program in 2008, Dru has worked on dozens of projects including short and feature length films, TV pilots, major network broadcasts, music videos, commercial videos, webisodes, and even the shooting of video elements to be used in live theatre performances. Taking a generalist approach, he has worked as producer, director, DP, editor, gaffer, grip, audio recordist, script assistant, PA, and actor (screen filler).

L. Michael Gipson - Writer/ Story Editor

 An award-winning writer, public health and youth advocate, L. Michael Gipson, MS has worked on HIV/AIDS, youth and community development programming on the local, state and national level for 19 years. Throughout those years, Michael has conducted research and written articles, fact sheets, and issue briefs for local and national non-­-profits such as Advocates for Youth, the National Youth Advocacy Coalition and The AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland (ATGC). 

As an essayist and cultural critic, his work has appeared in Clik, Pulse, Arise, Pride, Amplify, Swerv, Urban Dialect, Port of Harlem, Gay People’s Chronicle, Lambda Literary, and Creative Loafing Atlanta. He is the Music Editor of www.SoulTracks.com and was the Soul Sessions Blog Leader at BET/Centric. He has written album liner notes and artists bios for E1 Entertainment, Kedar Entertainment, Soulspazm Records, Big Break Records, and Purpose Music Group, among others. Michael has also managed the Baltimore-­-based soul act, Marcell & the Truth, and the Berkeley hip hop artist/academic, rep life. For two years, Michael was heard as a weekly guest commentator on the UK-­-based Dave Brown Radio Show on Solar/Sky Network Digital Radio. He can now be heard internationally presenting Soul News on the syndicated JL Jamz.

Scott F. Busch - Film Editor

 Scott is an award winning filmmaker based in Chicago who specializes in editing and motion graphics. He has four years of professional experience with editing documentary and narrative films, music videos, trailers, corporate videos and more. Scott graduated with honors from Columbia College Chicago in 2009 with a BA in film and video post-production.

He recently co-produced and edited a feature-length documentary entitled “I Am a Visitor in Your World” that premiered at the 14th annual Woodstock Film Festival and won first place at the Athens International Film + Video Festival. Scott has been in various post-production roles such as editor, motion graphics artist, online editor/colorist, and post-production coordinator on films that have debuted at other festivals including the Chicago International Film Festival, Slamdance Film Festival and more.

Scott is currently finishing post-production on his third feature-length documentary. The project is with On Look Films: an internationally diverse team of professionals working together to document the Islamic call to prayer in Cairo, Egypt.


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