By: Malik Pollard
Who remembers song hits like “There’ll Never Be”, “I Call Your Name”, and “Love Over & Over Again”? Great songs, right? Now, do you know who wrote, produced, and performed those songs? By a show of hands, how many of you said DeBarge? Be honest (lol)! You are not alone, growing up, I thought these were all DeBarge songs. In fact, I thought El DeBarge was lead singer on these songs.
Before there was DeBarge, there were a rising group of musicians from Detroit Michigan and Akron Ohio named Switch formed by Gregory Williams with Leads Bobby DeBarge and Tommy DeBarge. It is Switch that gave us these great hits, and Bobby DeBarge is who would later form the group DeBarge with his siblings for Motown Records. Despite his success in music, the Iconic Falsetto found his life in peril as he struggled with fame and fortune, addiction, and incarceration while coping with the memories of his dysfunctional childhood.
Robert Louis “Bobby” DeBarge Jr. was born on March 5, 1956, and is the eldest son born to Robert Louis DeBarge, Sr. and Etterlene DeBarge. Robert, Sr. and Etterlene would have a total of 10 children including Bobby: Etterlene “Bunny” DeBarge (b. 1955), Thomas Keith “Tommy” DeBarge (b. 1957), William Randall “Randy” DeBarge (b. 1958), Mark “Marty” DeBarge (b. 1959), Eldra Patrick “El” DeBarge (b. 1961), James DeBarge (b. 1963), Jonathan Arthur “Chico” DeBarge (b. 1966), Carol “Peaches” DeBarge (b. 1970), Darrell “Young” DeBarge (b. 1970).
On June 29th, 2019, TV One will air ‘The Bobby DeBarge Story’ at 8PM. The movie show’s a depiction of Bobby DeBarge’s life and expose the triumphs and success of Bobby DeBarge, as well as the trials and evils of Robert Louis DeBarge, Jr. ‘The Bobby DeBarge Story’ is like a Shakesperean Tragedy, and represents more than just another biopic. Director Russ Parr (“35 and Ticking,” “The Last Stand”) was tapped to bring this project to life, and he has said that it is one of the most emotional and powerful films to hit the small screen. We had the opportunity to speak with Russ Parr about The Bobby DeBarge Story and he expressed how this story will give a voice to the voiceless. The Bobby DeBarge Story shines a flood light to mental, physical, and sexual abuse; and how African Americans as a community have been conditioned to bury dark secrets of pain. It is pain that if not dealt with or faced, can manifest itself in many ways. In the case of Bobby DeBarge, despite all of his success, he battled “secrets” from his childhood, and struggled with acceptance, and love.
This story is emotional, commanding, and riveting. The hope for Russ Parr and the cast of this film is that it furthers the conversation of Mental Health and the importance for people to speak their truth.