It has been nearly a year since syndicated radio personality Charlamagne Tha God and actor Kevin Hart struck up a multiyear, multi-project licensing deal with Audible to bring more diverse content to the audiobook and podcast platform owned by Amazon. The result is a slate of five original series set to debut on Audible in 2022. They say the lineup supports the overall vision of the development deal to give rise to Black creatives and create content that speaks to the culture.
Under their newly created audio production banner SBH Productions, Charlamagne and Hart will get things rolling with a show called “Finding Tamika.” The Audible Original deconstructs the troubling phenomenon that is the media’s lack of significant coverage of cases of missing or murdered Black women. The podcast tells Tamika’s story through the voices of her family, other principal figures, and even Tamika beyond the grave in this true crime, neo-noir production hosted, produced and co-written by activist and actor Erika Alexander. The series is set for release on March 3.
Additional projects include “Summer of ’85,” a true story of the juxtaposition of two actual events – the Live Aid benefit for Africa which received global attention and the MOVE bombing of a controversial group of African-American citizens attempting to create African-style communal living in the middle of Philadelphia – both taking place just a short distance from one another in the summer of 1985 but each event viewed differently by the city and around the world.
Another series in the works that is closer to home for the two men is “Short, Black and Handsome.” It is described as an Odd Couple-style comedy written by Abdul Williams (The Bobby Brown Story, The New Edition Story) and starring Kevin Hart and Charlamagne Tha God about two fathers and husbands who become business partners and find out they have more in common than the title suggests.
SBH Productions is also working on “Un-lesh for Love,” a scripted comedy series starring Alesha Renee about an actress looking for love in her 30’s. And “Brokedown Prophets,” a scripted thriller created and written by author SA Cosby (Blacktop Wasteland, Razorblade Tears).
“We are excited to introduce our listeners to the dynamic inaugural slate of content from our collaboration with Kevin Hart and Charlamagne Tha God’s SBH Productions,” said Zola Mashariki, Head of Audible Studios. “Audible is dedicated to telling powerful stories and showcasing established and underrepresented voices in audio, and SBH’s first collection of projects will offer Audible listeners rich, multifaceted narratives.”
SBH Productions has also made a key hire, bringing on veteran audio producer Nicole Shelton as its Head of Production.
“SBH and Audible are at the forefront of the audio renaissance, often times TV and film companies don’t see the vision for these great stories by black creatives so they are hard to get made, said Charlamagne Tha God. “What Nicole, Kevin and myself along with the rest of team SBH have built is a space for these companies and the whole world to hear our vision.”
The Audible project is in addition to Charlamagne’s role as head of The Black Effect Podcast Network, his joint venture with iHeartMedia. Charlamagne has also taken on the role as Senior Creative Officer of Culture Content and Programming for iHeartMedia. It involves discovering and curating new talent and programming for radio and podcasts and developing productions and community initiatives.
In addition to new projects, Audible says the collaboration will also launch a selection of ongoing audio recommendations personally curated by Charlamagne and Hart, celebrating titles from a diverse array of authors that have impacted and inspired them.
“SBH has the opportunity to be a driving force and new creative outlet for our culture,” said Hart. “This vertical allows us to bring the voices of our community to the masses and to share our rich stories that run deep in our souls.”