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$4,533 pledged of $54,000 goal
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By John Hubbell
$4,533 pledged of $54,000 goal
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About this project

If kindness and talent were dollars, John Gary Williams (iseehopememphis.com) would be a millionaire many times over.

Instead, Mr. Williams — an influential American soul singer — has largely lived out of the spotlight, always choosing principles over profits, and friendships over fame. The “I See Hope” project is documenting his professional re-emergence as it unfolds this year. We're asking music and documentary fans around the world to join us to help make it happen.

Visit our project page at iseehopememphis.com. Here's more on John Gary's story:

As a young man, Mr. Williams led The Mad Lads — one of the first major acts on the legendary Stax Records label — to worldwide fame. Daryl Hall and John Oates, among others, were greatly influenced by seeing The Mad Lads perform. But a series of tragic events soon conspired to push Mr. Williams and the group from the spotlight. The Vietnam War, Mr. Williams' involvement in the Black Power Movement and Stax Records' untimely closure combined to effectively ruin his career.

We're working with Mr. Williams throughout the year to tell his remarkable life story in his own words in a feature-length documentary. Our goal is for "I See Hope" to be broadcast globally and appear at film festivals worldwide beginning in 2014, and ultimately be available as a digital download and on DVD.

In our film, you'll see Mr. Williams reflect back on his life as he undertakes a journey of professional rejuvenation — recording original soul music in Memphis, and preparing for his first-ever major solo concert on Sept. 28 at Memphis' beautiful, historic Levitt Shell. If you love soul music — or simply stories that speak to the soul — we're making "I See Hope" especially for you. 

As we film, we're also following Mr. Williams on a quest to find his master tapes of the solo work he made at Stax before its untimely demise. Those tapes contain never-before-heard original Stax music made by Mr. Williams with the same studio musicians who created some of the world's most cherished popular music. We are excited to see what Mr. Williams finds — and we hope he can share this music with you, and see him receive the benefit from his classic work that has long been denied him.

"I See Hope" has the blessing of Al Bell, who served as Stax Records' CEO; Deanie Parker, Stax's longtime publicist; and many others in the music world who you'll meet on screen as our journey with John Gary continues.

The "I See Hope" team is comprised of well-regarded small companies like Running Pony Productions, and award-winning freelancers including Lance Murphey, John Hubbell and Michael Carpenter

We've been researching Mr. Williams' story for more than six years. We think the world of him, and have worked without funding for several months to begin creating a work sample needed for TV networks, charitable foundations and others who may help us tell his story.

Your support is crucial. It will allow us to cover basic expenses as we follow Mr. Williams' journey leading to his September concert, and cover some of our preproduction needs.

Ultimately, "I See Hope" will cost more than what we seek here. We pledge to use all of the funds we receive to advance the cause of the film and its overall goal of returning John Gary's music to the world.

We've lined up truly great gifts you'll enjoy, including copies of "I See Hope" and the music Mr. Williams will record this year with the funds your provide... VIP tickets to his September show in Memphis... and even a personal thank-you call from Mr. Williams himself.  For soul music fans worldwide, our top-level donations offer chances to come to Memphis and plunge into this great music in ways few people ever can.

We see our supporters as partners, and we'll be keeping you routinely updated throughout the year with behind-the-scenes footage, blog updates and more.

Mr. Williams is a great singer and even greater person. He deserves this chance to finally tell his story and fully rejoin the world artistic community. We're proud to help him via "I See Hope" — and we hope you'll be proud to join in support of our project. Please feel free to email us with any questions at iseehopememphis@gmail.com.

Sincerely,

The I SEE HOPE team

Risks and challenges

Our highly experienced team has been awarded a total of seven Emmy Awards, and our commitment to completing this project in collaboration with John Gary Williams is rock solid.

Everything we're offering as a reward has been thoroughly arranged with those we need to fulfill our promises to our Kickstarter supporters. We're looking forward to keeping you thoroughly updated on our progress, and hope to make new friends who are fans of classic American soul music all over the world. We'll do our part to keep you informed.

Our $54,000 request is designed to leave us with $50,000 to fund crew, equipment and related expenses. We need to reach our goal so that we can help to fund John Gary's recording sessions this summer and provide you with his new songs that you'll receive through your pledge. So we're dependent on your support to make things work.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    Digital download of ONE new song of original Memphis soul to be recorded by John Gary Williams this summer in Memphis.

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    Pledge $15 or more About $15

    Digital downloads of TWO new songs of original Memphis soul to be recorded by John Gary Williams this summer.

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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    • A digital download of "I See Hope." • A digital download of a new, original song by John Gary Williams, to be recorded this summer in Memphis.

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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    • A digital copy of "I See Hope" PLUS:

    • TWO digital downloads of new, original songs by John Gary Williams, to be recorded this summer in Memphis.

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    12 backers
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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    • A digital copy of "I See Hope" • Two digital downloads of new, original songs to be recorded this summer in Memphis by John Gary Williams PLUS: • A personalized, autographed, digitally delivered picture of John Gary Williams.

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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    JUST ADDED! • Two VIP tickets to preshow party at John Gary Williams' Sept. 28 concert at the Levitt Shell in Memphis. • A digital copy of "I See Hope" • Two digital downloads of new, original songs to be recorded this summer in Memphis by John Gary Williams PLUS: • A personalized, autographed, digitally delivered picture of John Gary Williams.

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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    • A digital copy of "I See Hope" • Two digital downloads of new, original songs to be recorded this summer in Memphis by John Gary Williams • A personalized, autographed, digitally delivered picture of John Gary Williams PLUS: • Blu-Ray DVD of "I See Hope" • Special-edition vinyl pressing of this summer's recordings with John Gary Williams • Exclusive online preview of "I See Hope" PLUS • Personal thank you call from John Gary Williams • Two VIP passes to Sept. 28 show at the Levitt Shell in Memphis starring John Gary Williams, the Bo-Keys and the Memphis Symphony Orchestra's Opus One

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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    • A digital copy of "I See Hope" • Two digital downloads of new, original songs to be recorded this summer in Memphis by John Gary Williams • A personalized, autographed, digitally delivered picture of John Gary Williams • Blu-Ray DVD of "I See Hope" • Special-edition vinyl pressing of this summer's recordings with John Gary Williams • Exclusive online preview of "I See Hope" PLUS • Personal thank you call from John Gary Williams • Two VIP passes to Sept. 28 show at the Levitt Shell in Memphis starring John Gary Williams, the Bo-Keys and the Memphis Symphony Orchestra's Opus One PLUS Admittance to rehearsal session for Sept. 28 concert • Two VIP tickets to Sept. 28 post-concert after-party • FOR THE FIRST FIVE PLEDGES: Choose a vinyl copy of one of five amazing recent reissues by the acclaimed Light in the Attic record label • FOR THE FIRST 20 PLEDGES: Choose a CD from one of five amazing reissues by the acclaimed Light in the Attic Record label

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    Pledge $2,500 or more About $2,500

    • A digital copy of "I See Hope" • Two digital downloads of new, original songs to be recorded this summer in Memphis by John Gary Williams • A personalized, autographed, digitally delivered picture of John Gary Williams • Blu-Ray DVD of "I See Hope" • Special-edition vinyl pressing of this summer's recordings with John Gary Williams • Exclusive online preview of "I See Hope" PLUS • Personal thank you call from John Gary Williams • Two VIP passes to Sept. 28 show at the Levitt Shell in Memphis starring John Gary Williams, the Bo-Keys and the Memphis Symphony Orchestra's Opus One • Admittance to rehearsal session for Sept. 28 concert • Two VIP tickets to Sept. 28 post-concert after-party PLUS • Personal tour for you and a guest with John Gary Williams at the Stax Museum of American Soul Music • FOR THE FIRST FIVE PLEDGES: A copy of the amazing vinyl reissue of classic 1970s Stax Records soul, "Gone But Not Forgotten," including a vintage track from John Gary Williams

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Funding period

- (36 days)