In TV One’s original film The Bobby DeBarge Story produced by Swirl Films, the 90-minute biopic which expands from the networks series UNSUNG, chronicles the life of falsetto master, the oldest sibling and founder of the talented group DeBarge.
Written by Norman Vance, Jr., directed by Russ Parr, the focus is on the downfall of a conflicted DeBarge, who despite having good looks, “light bright, damn near white skin” which arguably was looked at in the music industry as being more marketable, couldn’t seem to conquer his inner demons.
Ironically, DeBarge who had what some would consider as having the looks and talent, was abused as a child which brought out his insecurities cutting his promising career short way too soon. He died at just 39 years old.
In the role of Bobby DeBarge, played by Roshon Fegan (Greenleaf), filmmakers managed to create a film that at times causes uncomfortable laughter, mostly at the wigs worn by the actors and quirky lines. To the contrary, watching the decline of the singer was heartbreaking.
DeBarge definitely had a tumultuous life. He was sexually abused by his own father as a child, battled a drug addiction, rocky relationships with his siblings and women, including a brief relationship with LaToya Jackson of the famous Jackson family, all of which played a apart in his struggling musical career.
In an interview with The Chocolate Voice at the LA Premier and screening at Harmony Gold on Sunset Blvd., Fegan shared that his familiarity with DeBarge came from listening to the Motown signed group as a child with his parents, and as a sample on the the hit record “Throw Some D’s by rapper Rich Boy featuring Polow Dad Don (2006).
Fegan’s outstanding portrayal as a tormented DeBarge, more notably in heated scenes with his mother Etterlene DeBarge, played by Tyra Ferrell (Boyz in the Hood) and younger brother James, portrayed by R&B singer Adrian Marcel, who certainly has the vocals to meet the high standards of the legendary DeBarge family. Prior to the screening Marcel hit the stage and belted out impromptu the DeBarge hit “I like it.”
Another R&B talent starring in the film is R&B singer Lloyd (Lloyd) Polite, who stars at Gregory Williams, founder of the group “Switch,” who throughout the film was at odds with DeBarge. Tommy DeBarge played by actor Blue Kimble, was also a member of the group “Switch.”
The story’s focus was more on DeBarge’s inner struggles versus his brilliant music making. With that in mind, if you’re hoping to sing-along to the sounds of Bobby DeBarge’s high falsetto in the 70’s Group Switch, you’ll hear minimal. In a few scenes the group DeBarge performs, and the audience will get to see Bobby’s reaction to his siblings success.
However, at the end of the film, the audience will enjoy the sounds of Bobby’s son, Bobby DeBarge, III, who’s voice, which includes a familiar falsetto that is most likely genetics. After all, the entire DeBarge family can saaang!
The Bobby DeBarge Story executive produced by Teri DeBarge and Eric Tomosunas airs on TVONE, Saturday, June 29, 8/7 central time.