Set in a record label ran by dame diva KK Queen (played by Linzy), Patience O'brien (also played by Linzy) continues her journey of being in love and singing. However, she soon realizes it is not the dream she dreamt.


Years before Empire, another black queer producer, Kalup Linzy, wrote and produced a drama series about empire set in the world of music and featuring an original soundtrack. Linzy uploaded his epic narrative Melody Set Me Free to YouTube in 2010, following a 2007 short film of the same name. He released three seasons, totaling over two and a half hours of drama: the first independently, presented on YouTube in four separate episodes, and the next two shot at MoMA PS1, produced by James Franco’s Rabitt Bandini production company and released as one “feature edit” on YouTube.

As a pilot, the short introduces a reality competition show where Patience, Grace and Faith vie for a record deal. Patience (played by Linzy) wins, and season one picks up with her recording her album for KK Records, owned by KK Queen, Linzy’s Lucious Lyon. Melody Set Me Free replaces American drama’s long-standing tradition of the white male hero or anti-hero driven to maintain or acquire power, with an ethically complex and bedeviled black woman driven to conquer the music industry with the “nasty ass hits” comprising the series’ soundtrack. KK Queen invested the estate of her late husband in the company to conquer the music industry. She is powerful, and the core of the drama is her struggle to keep the company together as her artists pursue their own desires.

-- Aymar Jean Christian, head of development at Open TV