In the ’80s and ’90s, Raymond Myles was considered one of, if not the, greatest gospel singers in New Orleans. In October 1998, at the height of his career and on the precipice of wider fame beyond the gospel world, he was shot dead during a carjacking on Elysian Fields Avenue.
Myles released only one full-length, studio album—A Taste of Heaven. The album’s producer, Leo Sacks, has been working on a documentary about Myles for the past few years, and is now turning to Kickstarter for help. The film would document the singer’s tumultuous life—from growing up with a single mother as the ninth of ten children in two St. Bernard Project rooms; to being excommunicated from the church at the age of twelve after recording a sexual song for his first single’s b-side; to developing the powerful voice and charisma that would make him internationally-known; and to his lifelong battle with his sexuality and the rejection he faced from many church leaders for it.
Sacks says that he has “about 30 hours of original HD footage so far. But we still have MORE THAN HALF a film to shoot.” Besides interviews with fellow musicians, church choir members, and Myles’ family, Sacks also has footage of Myles in church, at festivals, teaching students in his duties as a high school choir director, and even his audition tape for Columbia Records in 1995, obtained through Willie Tee.
“Ultimately, Raymond’s story is a universal story,” Sacks writes, “about our everyday struggle for acceptance and fulfillment. With your support, I can tell, and do full justice to, the great untold story of Maestro Raymond Anthony Myles.”
The Kickstarter campaign ends Thursday, March 22, and has a $63,000 goal. Above is footage of Myles and his backing group, the Raymond Anthony Myles Singers (RAMS), singing live in church. Below you can watch the trailer for the proposed documentary, A Taste of Heaven: The Heartbreak Life of Raymond Myles. For more info, visit RaymondMylesMovie.com.