Black Fire Records Documentary Short Film
The Home Rule Music and Film Preservation Foundation has a primary goal of documenting and displaying DC music and its culture. We received a Grant Award from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities to help start the production of the Black Fire Documentary. Additional funds were raised from private sources and through a Kickstarter Campaign.
The Black Fire Documentary uncovers Washington, DC’s music and its cultural heritage by highlighting the documents, images, photographs, art, video footage, music and the people behind Black Fire Records. Through the use of primary and secondary research methods, in-person interviews, and archival and media footage and photography, the documentary shines light on a Black-owned independent jazz record label started in Chocolate City, aka the nation’s capital in the 1970’s.
Established by DJ and record producer Jimmy Gray, and Saxophonist James “Plunky” Branch who led the band Oneness Of Juju, Black Fire Records followed in the footsteps of other influential black-owned independent labels like Strata-East and Tribe.
The Black Fire Documentary is a story about Jimmy Gray and the early days of DC radio. It’s also about Black entrepreneurship and Black independent record labels of the time, especially boutique Jazz labels. The Black Fire Documentary is a story about the Spiritual Jazz Movement through highlighting Plunky's contemporaries such as Sun ra. The Black Fire Documentary is also about the Black Cultural Movements of the time, specifically in DC, but also in California and New York. The Black Fire Documentary is a story about an independent jazz label and its connections to modern music through Hip Hop & Neo-Soul; via artists that sampled or were influenced by Plunky/Black Fire (J Dilla, Madlib, The Roots, Questlove, Big Pun, KRS ONE etc.). Finally, the Black Fire Documentary is a story about Family / Legacy and how Jamiah Branch and Jamal Gray carry on the lineage of Black Fire Records.