Harlem To Hollywood is the story of the most famous person most people have never heard of:  singer, songwriter, producer Billy Vera.

Thanks to his hit with Judy Clay “Storybook Children,” Billy became the first white male to play Harlem’s fabled Apollo as part of a duet with a black woman — which took place at the time of the Newark riots.

Thanks to his hit with Judy Clay “Storybook Children,” Billy became the first white male to play Harlem’s fabled Apollo as part of a duet with a black woman — which took place at the time of the Newark riots.

After penning hits for Dolly Parton, Ricky Nelson, and others, Billy’s song “At This Moment,” which was recorded for a Japanese label that went out of business, years later became arguably the surprise hit of all time thanks to its use on TV’s “Family Ties,” thus thrusting Billy & the Beaters to the top spot on the charts, above the likes of Madonna and Bon Jovi.

A man of multiple talents, Billy, together with his friend Michael Cuscuna, produced several award-winning albums for the great Lou Rawls.

An archivist and historian of note, Billy spearheaded the reissue of classics from the vaults of Specialty, Capitol, and other labels.

His liner notes for a Ray Charles box set won him a well-deserved Grammy.

More to come!

THE CAST ------ Click for more

Dolly Parton

 

Dionne Warwick

 

Mable John

 

Joey Dee

 

Mike Stoller

 

Benny Golson

 

Nona Hendryx

 

Chip Taylor

 

Richard Roundtree

 

Art Rupe

 

L. Russell Brown

 

Steve Binder

 

Tim Hauser

 

Joe Smith

 

The Filmmaker:

Alan Swyer – Director

Alan Swyer has been writer, director, and/or producer for film, television, music videos, and commercials ranging from HBO’s much-honored “Rebound” with Don Cheadle, Forrest Whitaker, and James Earl Jones to “The Buddy Holly Story;” and “Alfred Hitchcock Presents.”  In the realm of documentaries, “Beisbol,” narrated by Andy Garcia, won the Imagen Award winner for best feature-length documentary, while “Diabetes:  Challenges & Breakthroughs” won a Golden Mic Award for best TV documentary.  Other feted films include “Spiritual Revolution,” “It’s More Expensive To Do Nothing,” “Leimert Park,” and the recent festival hit “El Boxeo.”  Plus, he spent time at the beach as showrunner on LA’s own “Baywatch.”  He is currently finishing a documentary called “From Harlem To Hollywood” about musical legend Billy Vera.

In the music business he has worked with artists such as Solomon Burke, Billy Preston, and Jerry Butler, and produced an album of Ray Charles love songs, as well as writing liner notes for scores of CDs.

His short stories have appeared in Ireland, England, Germany, India, and in many American publications and anthologies.  His novel “The Beard” was published recently by Harvard Square Editions.

An activist of note, he created, together with the Presiding Judge of Juvenile and the Chief Probation Officer, Los Angeles County’s highly successful Teen Court program.

He has been a faculty member at the American Film Institute, USC, Pepperdine, and Chapman University.  Fluent in French, he taught a writing-directing workshop at France’s Universite de l’Ete.  He has also presided over two week-long screenwriting workshops in Singapore.

Mr. Swyer is a member of the Board of Directors of the Compton Baseball Academy as well as of the West Coast Boxing Hall of Fame.  For several years he was also in the Board of the Institute of Advanced Journalism at North Carolina A&T.

 

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