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John Legend Partners with Baobab Studios for VR Series ‘Rainbow Crow’

Award-winning musician, actor, producer, and activist John Legend will Executive Produce and Star in upcoming VR series, Rainbow Crow, from Baobab Studios.

Attendees at Tribeca Immersive’s Virtual Arcade (April 19-29) are going to have a tough time deciding which VR content to experience, but if they want to hear the voice of John Legend, they’ll have to check out the first chapter of Rainbow Crow, the all-new VR series from Baobab Studios.

Baobab is no stranger to drawing Hollywood talent to VR; Ethan Hawke and Elizabeth Banks provided voice talent for INVASION! and ASTEROIDS!, respectively. John Legend, who has established himself as a creative renaissance man with 10 Grammys, an Oscar, and too many other accolades to list, is now diving headfirst into VR. Not only is he lending his voice as the eponymous character, he serves as Executive Producer on the project. He and longtime collaborator Ty Stiklorius worked alongside the creative team at Baobab to craft the new series—intended to capture the emotional and tonal resonance of a storybook.

Based on a legend from the Lenape Tribe, Rainbow Crow is a story that champions perseverance, diversity and self-acceptance—uniting music, bleeding-edge technology, and a focus on storytelling fundamentals that Baobab has built its name on. Like INVASION! and ASTEROIDS!Rainbow Crow is directed by Eric Darnell, Co-Founder and CCO of Baobab (who also wrote and directed the Madagascar franchise).

Rainbow Crow brings storytelling and music together in a way no one else has yet in virtual reality,” said Legend in a statement. “It’s an incredible medium for inspiring a journey of self-discovery and finding your way in times to darkness. In light of what’s going on in today’s world, it’s a message of deep meaning that people from all walks of life can embrace.”

Narrated by Kiowa-Caddo tribal elder Randy Edmonds, the story follows this rainbow-colored and smooth-voiced crow, who, after his world falls into a deep winter, journeys far and wide to bring light back. Edmonds, an 82-year-old lifelong crusader for Native American rights and founder of the National Urban Indian Council also aided Baobab in adapting the story for modern audiences in a way that honored its origins as a story with roots in Native American folklore.

“All Native American tales have a tradition of deep meaning and that’s why we tell the stories, sharing down the generations,” said Edmonds in a statement. “When I look at the impact these legends have, the insights they represent, taking that storytelling to a modern medium is extremely exciting.  The beautiful VR work being created—inspired by our folklore—is like nothing I’ve ever experienced in my many years.”

Baobab has foregrounded diversity in their hiring and casting processes, which aligned with Legend’s work as an activist.

“[John] is an incredible innovator across all mediums, from song to film, and now to VR — both in front of and behind the camera,” said Baobab Studios CEO Maureen Fan in a statement. “Not only are the characters diverse, but so is our joint production team.  Our shared values and ethos is another reason we’re so excited to work with John and Ty.”

For updates, follow Baobab’s Rainbow Crow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. There is no official public release date for the series yet.

About the Scout

Jesse Damiani

Jesse Damiani is Editor-at-Large of VRScout and the CEO of Galatea, a writing and narrative design management tool for immersive storytelling. He's also Series Editor for Best American Experimental Writing (Wesleyan University Press) and the author of @endless$pectator: The Screens Suite #loliloquy (BlazeVOX, 2017). Other writing can be found on IndieWire and The Huffington Post.

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