Voices of Fire: Season 1
Duration: 6 Episodes
Genre: Gospel, Docuseries
Producer: A. Smith & Co., i am OTHER, Pharrell Williams, Mimi Valdés, Arthur Smith, Frank Sinton, Bianca Barnes-Williams
Release Date: 20 November, 2020
Streaming On: Netflix
Star Cast: Pharrell Williams, Bishop Ezekiel Williams
Voices of Fire is an upcoming 2020 gospel musical documentary television series that follows Pharrell Williams, his uncle Bishop Ezekiel Williams, and their team of gospel leaders as they travel to Pharrell's hometown of Hampton Roads, Virginia, in search of talented singers to build a world class gospel choir.
Voices of Fire follows Pharrell Williams’s hometown community leaders as they attempt to build one of the world’s most inspiring gospel choirs. The process of creating that musical team will be examined in a new Netflix series.
Voices of Fire features Williams’s uncle, Bishop Ezekiel Williams, and a core team of influential gospel leaders. Together, they venture out into Hampton Roads, Virginia to find undiscovered talent. With the belief that diverse backstories can give their collective voice a greater meaning, the Bishop and his team will be searching for people of all ages, ethnicities and backgrounds.
Out of 1200 applicants, 300 are invited to the church for try-outs, to whittle things down to 75 members. Pharrell isn’t at the first try-out round, but Ezekiel is joined by Peggy Britt, a local gospel legend and vocal coach, music director Larry George, and choir master Patrick Riddick.
In the first episode, we’re introduced to- a girl who was born with only one ear, a 42-year-old who had to endure the murder of his mother when he was ten, a woman who is back to singing after having to take care of her ill husband and father, and a man who lost his arm when he was a kid and was a successful backup singer for a number of years before stepping away from singing full-time. Another singer, who’s 33 and lives with her parents, has severe social anxiety but feels comfortable in front of a microphone.
We also get to know more about Britt, George and Riddick, and find out what exactly they’re looking for. Williams is looking for the “unicorn,” whose voice blows them away but whose artistry comes from an unexpected source. In some cases, the singers only have to sing a few notes for the judges to know that he or she will be in the choir.
In a clip montage as Ezekiel Williams described his goals for this super choir. Although here, Williams was seen looking for a diverse choir, almost all of the people highlighted were African-American. Though everyone’s stories were compelling, and their voices were amazing, one would hope to see more of the diversity Williams was talking about.
There’s some inspirational ones here too, most of which predictably revolving around how Faith and God have helped them overcome their demons. It’s pretty standard stuff for this genre but given the themes of diversity and the power of music, it’s easy to look past this.
There’s light drama involved with lots of tears and tough decisions to make as the contestant numbers keeps slashing down. The second half of the series has everything: from vocal harmonies, solo performances and the worries of few that they may not even be able to perform on the big day.
This big day comes in the form of a 40 minute finale that incorporates the entire journey: heartbreak, hope and joy over the previous episodes together into a show of vocal talent.