Richard Penniman, the music icon best known as Little Richard, was long retired from the public eye when he died in May 2020 from bone cancer. However, thanks to award-winning film producer and director Lisa Cortés, she is putting him in the spotlight one last time.
In her new documentary film Little Richard: I Am Everything, Cortés attempts to dive into the Black queer origins of rock n’ roll and explode the whitewashed canon of American pop music, while telling the full story of Little Richard, the flamboyantly queer, immensely talented and ambitious, but often conflicted artist, who set the latter half of the 20th century ablaze with songs like “Tutti Frutti” and “Keep A-Knockin.'”
Through a wealth of archive and performance that brings audiences into Little Richard’s complicated inner world, as well as interviews with family, musicians, and cutting-edge Black and queer scholars, the film unspools his life story with all its switchbacks and contradictions and reveals how he created an art form for the ultimate self-expression. Unfortunately, could never give himself what he gave to the world.
The world tried to put him in a box, but Little Richard was an omni being who contained multitudes. He was unabashedly everything, a larger than life seminal figure, and his influence on rock n’ roll will never be forgotten.
Cortés took some time to talk more about the film and Little Richard’s legacy with Instinct. Check out the full video interview below.
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1 thought on “Director Lisa Cortés Talks ‘Little Richard: I Am Everything’”
It’s sad the went back and forth throughout his life being gay and anti-gay.
“I’ve been gay all my life and I know God is a God of love, not of hate.” — 1995, to Penthouse
He came from a Seventh-Day Adventist family but also attended Baptist and Holiness churches, notes a Rolling Stone bio, and once said he was kicked out by his family in his early teens for being gay.