Little Richard: I Am Everything – Review

Little Richard: I Am Everything - Review

Little Richard: I Am Everything – Review. By Rudie Obias

“I am the innovator. I am the originator. I am the emancipator. I am the architect of Rock ‘N Roll!” These are the words of rock icon Little Richard during his acceptance speech for his Lifetime Achievement Award during the American Music Awards ceremony in 1997. These words also speak volumes to everything he contributed to the music genre. In the documentary Little Richard: I Am Everything, director Lisa Cortés (The Remix: Hip Hop X Fashion, All In: The Fight for Democracy) chronicles the life of one of rock’s biggest legends.

Starting from humble beginnings in Macon, Georgia in 1932, Little Richard (born Richard Wayne Penniman) was the son of a housewife and a church deacon and a brick mason—who also dabbled in bootlegging moonshine. From an early age, he had an interest in Blues and Gospel, which inspired him to create Rock ‘N Roll music.



The documentary tells his life story through interviews of people who knew him, including his family and childhood friends, people who worked with him, such as fellow musicians and longtime fans (like Paul McCartney from The Beatles, Mick Jagger from Rolling Stones), and scholars and contemporary artists (like Billy Porter and John Waters) who continue to be inspired by his music and life.

While the film, at times, feels pretty standard with a basic “and then this happened” structure, Little Richard: I Am Everything has a spirit and momentum to it, thanks to the interview subjects that really give the events context and deeper meaning. In fact, Little Richard himself provides that context through older interviews recorded over his life and career.

Although Little Richard was a pioneer in music, he was also a pioneer in Civil Rights and Queerness—which he, unfortunately, struggled with his own acceptance throughout his own life. Being Black in the Deep South during the mid-20th Century has its systematic obstacles, while also being an openly gay man didn’t make things easy for him. However, Little Richard still managed to write hit songs and change hearts and minds through his music, eccentric personality, and thrilling and out-of-this-world performances. Just existing as a Black gay man is a revolutionary act on its own.

Little Richard: I Am Everything provides a lot of information and context of Little Richard, how he created Rock ‘N Roll, and didn’t get the recognition or success as the White counterparts who were inspired by him—like Elvis Presley. Even if you are a fan of his work, or new to it, this documentary thoroughly catalog’s Little Richard’s life, work, and importance to American pop culture and music. It even explores his relationship with God and how he turned away from music and the Rock ‘N Roll lifestyle (excessive drugs and sex) again and again to deepen his connection to God and Seventh-day Adventist Church.

And while the documentary is a bit too broad for this writer’s taste, it’s worth a watch—especially if you’re a fan of Little Richard. It might even confront your notions of Blackness and queerness in Rock ‘N Roll and how the genre has been whitewashed throughout the decades.


We hope you're enjoying BRWC. You should check us out on our social channels, subscribe to our newsletter, and tell your friends. BRWC is short for battleroyalewithcheese.


Trending on BRWC:

Michael Mendelsohn: Interview 

Michael Mendelsohn: Interview 

By BRWC / 6th May 2024 / 1 Comment
Damaged: Review

Damaged: Review

By BRWC / 22nd April 2024 / 2 Comments
Velma Season 2: Review

Velma Season 2: Review

By BRWC / 9th May 2024 / 1 Comment
One Life: The BRWC Review

One Life: The BRWC Review

By BRWC / 24th April 2024
Infested – Review  

Infested – Review  

By BRWC / 5th May 2024 / 1 Comment

Cool Posts From Around the Web:



Rudie Obias lives in Brooklyn, New York. He’s a writer and editor who is interested in cinema, pop culture, music, NBA basketball, science fiction, and web culture. His work can be found at IGN, Fandom, TV Guide, Metacritic, Yahoo!, Battleship Pretension, Mashable, Mental Floss, and of course, BRWC.