Paula Wagner, the producer who has been working on Broadway projects since splitting with former partner Tom Cruise, has acquired the film rights to the life story of the singer considered the mother of hip-hop: Sylvia Robinson.
Sylvia’s son, Joey Robinson, will executive produce and consult on the project, which will cover Robinson’s life as a singer and owner of Sugar Hill Records that, in 1979, had the first rap hit with “Rapper’s Delight” by the Sugar Hill Gang.
Sylvia Robinson, Sultry Singer & Hip-Hop Visionary, Dead at 75
Melle Mel, lead rapper of the group Grandmaster Flash and the Furious 5, will consult Robinson. Music executive Robert Kraft will co-produce the film.
The film will feature music owned by Sylvia Robinson’s family and administered by Universal Music Publishing Group. (Rhino Records acquired the label’s master recordings in 1995 while the Robinsons retained publishing). Rights to her life story were acquired directly from the family.
In the 1950s, Robinson — born Sylvia Vanderpool — was a blues singer who recorded as Little Sylvia for Columbia and Savoy Records. She was also half of the duo Mickey & Sylvia, who hit No. 11 on the Hot 100 in 1957 with “Love Is Strange.”
Her solo career started in 1973, hitting No. 3 with “Pillow Talk” on the Vibration label owned by her husband, Joe Robinson, which would eventually become Sugar Hill. Sylvia Robinson died in 2011 at the age of 75.
With “Rapper’s Delight,” the Englewood, N.J.-based Sugar Hill was able to claim it had the first rap hit in history. The label would later release landmark records by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious 5, Spoonie Gee and Melle Mel, among them “The Message,” “White Lines” and “Scorpio.”