There is a time in everyone’s life when they hit the proverbial fork in the road. The time when something hits you so hard you have to ask yourself do I drop everything and do this or do I keep going down the road I know? The ‘this’ could be a chance to make it rich or become famous or if you’re lucky it could be the passion project that determines the rest of your life, the place where you leave your mark in history. This is the story of a father and daughter that each hit their own fork in the road.
Nearly a half century ago in 1965 a man who got involved with a small record company in the mid-60’s had a choice to make. Would he continue to help produce and grow a record label or would he take the song that he just recorded on a freshly pressed vinyl 45 RPM and become a full-time singer. The song he cut was “Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)” by Frank Wilson. In the end, he chose to stick with his production career and the 250 demo copies of the 7″ vinyl records were destroyed except for two copies.
The way the story goes, one of those two vinyl copies is in the private collection of Berry Gordy, while the other landed at a famous English Northern soul nightclub in Wigan, England, where the song became a cult classic in the ’60s and ’70s. Due to its enormous popularity, the record was officially released in the UK in 1979. It is arguably the most popular Northern Soul record of all time and remained No. 1 on the Northern Soul charts as late as 2015. Oh and that little record company that was founded in the 60s where Wilson worked was none other than Berry Gordy’s Motown Records. Wilson went on to write and produce hit records for the likes of Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, The Supremes, The Miracles, The Four Tops, The Temptations and more.
Wilson’s daughter is Fawn Weaver, a USA Today and New York Times best-selling author. One day back in 2016 while traveling in Singapore with her husband she picked up the New York Times. It was a page one cover story that day that was Weaver’s fork in the road.
On June 25, 2016 the New York Times published a story by author Clay Risen, Jack Daniel’s Embraces a Hidden Ingredient: Help from a Slave. Risen took what was an open secret at the Jack Daniel Distillery and surrounding community of Lynchburg, Tennessee and shared the story with the entire world.
When Weaver first read the article she said, “If there is any truth to this story, it is one of the most remarkable stories in African-American history to have never been told and if I have the opportunity to tell it, I am going to do it.” In what she thought would make for a good book or a movie Weaver took the story and went to Lynchburg to learn all should could about Nearest Green. Fast forward a couple years and that idea turned into the Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey brand, the Nearest Green Foundation, and the Nearest Green Distillery in Shelbyville, Tennessee.
Weaver had found her passion. She wanted the world to know the untold story of Nearest Green the earliest known African-American Master Distiller in U.S. history. Uncle Nearest whiskey is now sold in all 50 states and internationally. Weaver broke ground on a new distillery in Shelbyville, Tennessee on September 5 of last year and construction continues on the project right now.
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Father and Daughter Continue to Make History 55 Years Apart
55 years later Fawn Weaver is taking her passion project and reviving the story of Nearest Green and the music of her late father Frank Wilson and bringing them together. She’s using Wilson’s “Do I Love You (Indeed I Do) song as the soundtrack for a new Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey television commercial.
“I remember where I was the moment I learned my father had recorded an album with his own voice,” said Weaver. “My father did a brilliant job of cementing his own legacy when he was alive. Now, I have the honor of combining that with my own mission of cementing the legacy of Nearest Green, a man who didn’t have the chance to do that while he was living. I have no doubt my father is in heaven with a smile, and hopefully seated right next to him is another legend, Nearest.” And if you have ever heard Weaver speak she’ll add one more participant to this heavenly gathering and that’s Jack Daniels as these three men sit around and enjoy a smooth Tennessee whiskey together.
This is the second commercial from the super-premium whiskey brand. Uncle Nearest’s first-ever commercial, “The Why,” debuted last year as an introduction to the godfather of Tennessee Whiskey, and featured Emmy award-winning actor, Jeffrey Wright.
“The opportunity to share the story of yet another legacy was too good to pass up,” said David Poag, the director of both commercials. “And the song itself is just so good. It makes you want to jump and dance, it makes you happy. That’s an emotion we are proud to be broadcasting right now.”
“Do I Love You” commercial debuted in Detroit, Michigan the original home of Motown Records and is now airing on all 50 states. You can see the entire commercial along with Frank Wilson’s version right here, right now.
Uncle Nearest Whiskey Do I Love You (Indeed I Do) Commercial
Legendary Motown Records Producer Frank Wilson Performs “Do I Love You (Yes I Do)
Fawn Weaver’s Passion Project
To tell this story, “with honor… with love… with respect and make sure that the world knows who Nearest Green was but… make sure that it is told in such a way where it builds the legacy of Nearest, without harming the legacy of Jack.”
~ Fawn Weaver, Co-Founder Nearest Green Foundation & Nearest Green Distillery
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Uncle Nearest 1856 Premium Whiskey