LOGLINE: Will the love of your life accept the new man in your life if that man is God?
Cheryl’s Song I begins with Mike and Cheryl, members of historical Black Greek Organizations with hundreds of thousands of members and a century of tradition. It’s their time, their romance, their senior year to lead their organizations and the Black Greek community at predominantly White Maryland State University in the late 1970’s.
The centerpiece of Black Greek life is the pledge tradition. Though known worldwide for their innovative Step Shows whose national competitions are sponsored by fortune 500 companies, the lifeblood of fraternity and sorority life is the highly structured pledge process. In the 1970’s, Black Greek pledging was a brutal affair. None were more respected or feared for their reputation as pledge and Big Brother than Mike “Frosty” Johnson.
When Mike and the love of his life, Cheryl Fields, befriend a freshman interested in pledging Mike’s fraternity, they can’t know the complete upheaval this one pledge will bring to their lives. Perry David is a born-again believer. The pledge process is steeped in traditions of hazing, womanizing, drinking, and drug use, and not designed to bend an inch to any other belief.
Perry leads Cheryl to accept his faith and become “saved.” Her conversion is powerful, and Mike begins to notice the distance their deep intimacy quickly unveils. Highly sought after, Mike’s successful band’s groupies and even Cheryl’s sorority sisters and friends would love a chance at enjoying the wholehearted devotion Mike has shown Cheryl through their four years.
Passions come to a head when Cheryl’s jealousy over the provocation from Mike’s lead singer causes her to slap Mike in public during their heated argument. The backlash against her friend and “pastor,” Perry, is immediate from the fraternity brothers of Mike pledging him and even his own pledge mates.
Cheryl disguises herself as a Rastafarian fraternity brother and performs the forbidden, sacrilegious act of sneaking into a pledging “Session” in hopes of freeing Perry from what could be a life-altering beating. As all in their world knew well, pledges were sometimes killed from the beatings common in Black Greek pledging.
Cheryl’s acting skills and knowledge of Mike’s fraternity traditions help her pull off the miracle of posing as a fraternity brother and seeing the inside of the world of the unknown, a Black Greek fraternity pledge session. Mike recognizes and does not expose her. She’s also able to witness Perry stand up for his faith in a way that amazes both Brothers and his fellow pledges.
Cheryl struggles with the sexual purity her faith calls her to practice in order to maintain the peace she feels from her conversion forward. She becomes more and more willing to give up her most deeply held desire: to marry Mike. As she learns to hear more during her prayer time, her peace is further disturbed by the revelation her best friend, Donna, has been secretly in love with Cheryl.
Cheryl is cut off from all conversation with Perry, unbeknownst to her by Mike and the brothers. When Donna accuses Cheryl of trying to mentally harass her after seducing Donna, Cheryl’s position as Resident Assistant is put into jeopardy as well as her graduation plans. A Hearing is set at which the party found guilty of lying before the Student Judiciary faces expulsion.
Mike accepts Cheryl’s support for Perry and comes back to her, and they reconcile. Donna decides to tell the truth and supports Cheryl in the Mid-Atlantic Step Competition Mike and Cheryl’s Black Greek Organizations sponsor annually.
In front of thousands of screaming spectators, Cheryl and her sorority sisters perform a brilliantly choreographed Step and call out the fraternity brothers for their misogyny and treatment of women with lyrics based on the principles Perry had preached during the many Bible teachings Cheryl attended.
Mike’s best friend and fraternity brother, Vernon, has long hated Cheryl and takes the opportunity to attempt to rape her the night after the Step competition. Incensed at her “put down” in his mind, when Mike is arrested for killing the man who shoots Perry during a pickup basketball game after the “insulting” Step competition, Vernon makes his move. He is scared off by a police officer cycling by, just as Cheryl had experienced figuratively in a recent dream.
Cheryl is surprised to learn at the hospital that the international preacher she and Mike had often watched on television, Bishop Saul, a fraternity brother of Mike’s and a Charter Member of their chapter at Maryland State, is Perry’s father. Cheryl finds new family in the church community Perry’s father oversees.