Dayton native 'handpicked' to write hit show’s music

A Dayton native’s music is literally the sound of a new crime drama. 

Singer and song writer Ebony Burks is part of the writing team for the Fox series “Shots Fired.”

Set in a small North Carolina town, “Shots Fired” is a 10-hour series that follows what happens as a result of racially-charged police shootings. 

Writing music for the show has allowed Burks to dive into current events related to race and police brutality and reflect the times. 

“I needed to be part of a project like this to get some of those things out,” she said. 

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She said she also has been able to probe current issues and historic cases further. 

“I am able to see things from different points of view,” Burks said. “It is what I needed in this time in my career.”

Led by music supervisor Jabari Ali, the show’s writing team is working on a soundtrack to be released by Def Jam Records. 

“Shots Fired” stars Sanaa LathanStephan James,  Helen Hunt and Richard Dreyfuss.

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Burks, who works with Paragon Film Music, is the co-writer for the show’s title song featuring Grammy nominee BJ The Chicago Kid and music from her team is heard throughout the series. 

She said it is rare that a series handpicks a writing team to write music specifically for its episodes. Burk said it is far more typical for a show to buy rights to music. 

Her work appears in the series’ sixth episode directed by Academy Award winner Jonathan Demme of “Silence Of The Lambs,” “Philadelphia” and “Beloved” fame. 

Raised in the Dayton View neighborhood, Burks was to graduate from Meadowdale High School in 1994, but dropped out of school her senior year to pursue music full time. 

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She traveled a bit after leaving school. 

“I wanted to keep going, so I came to LA and never turned back,” she said. 

Burks said education was stressed by her parents, and she received her GED in California.

She has worked steadily as a producer, writer, background singer or opening act for a list of groups that include Earth Wind & FireK-Ci & Jojo, Ron Isley,  Nikka Costa New Edition, Dru Hill and El Debarge.

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Her songs have been sung by a list of artists that includes Toni BraxtonTimbalandBlu Cantrell; Bridget MendlerAdam HicksGloria Gaynor;  Dr. DreWu Tang Clan and Blu Cantrell.

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 A mother of two, Burks frequently returns to Dayton. 

Her father and stepmother, Parker and Linda Burks, live in Dayton. Her mother, Zandra Arnold, lives in Centerville. Burks is set to be in town May 13 to be a guest judge for the 12th annual Family Affair Talent Show at Ponitz Technology Center, 741 Washington St. King Roscoe and Fau’jae from Lifetime’s “The Rap Game” will also serve as judges. 

Tickets to the event are $10 in advance and $12 on the day of the show. 

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