by Mark Carter
Little Rock’s recently expanded Bespoke Media Group will produce a “docu-series” of Arkansas native Al Bell, the renowned music executive and songwriter.
Bell is considered a member of the record industry’s elite “Who’s Who,” an icon of soul music active since 1965, who wrote, produced and promoted hits from acts such as Isaac Hayes and Prince. He’s the former owner and chairman of Stax Records, former president of the Motown Records Group, former owner and president of Bellmark Records and current president and CEO of Al Bell Presents.
And Bespoke, founded in 2012 by former KARK-TV general manager Rick Rogala, has been operating quietly under the radar, much like Bell himself, in warehouse row on the edge of Riverdale. The company has grown from a simple video production firm to a full-fledged media conglomerate, and now it will tell Bell’s story.
The series of documentaries will chronicle Bell’s life, the innovations he introduced to the industry and the influence he had on the artists with whom he worked.
For Bell, the decision to tell his life’s story wasn’t an easy one. But once he made the decision, Bespoke was an easy choice, he said.
“I have wrestled for some time with the facts of my life story being told,” he said. “My life has been filled with many gut-wrenching, revealing and rare entertainment arcs, and the key was finding the right storytellers who could do it justice. Telling the stories of Al Bell, Stax, and Motown, and all the incredible musical artists whose sound embodies Soulsville USA and who influenced so many, is very important.
“Not just from an historical perspective, but critical for building a vibrant and soul-satisfying music and entertainment industry today and tomorrow. Bespoke Media Group understands this, and the creator knows I am delighted and thankful to be working with them. It is time now.”
Bespoke’s clients include Wal-Mart, Discovery Channel, ESPN, Animal Planet, Heifer International, CHI St. Vincent, local digital media startup Hark, even Arkansas Business Publishing Group.
Rogala, of course, is happy to add Bell to the company’s portfolio.
“We are honored and exhilarated to be working with Al Bell and to tell this incredibly important and powerful story,” he said. “It is a story of genius, vision, and courage wrapped in music that defined and transformed our culture. And, it’s a story that is absolutely relevant to the world we live in today.”
Rogala says distribution details are still in the works, but look for a late 2016/early 2017 release.