“Amazing Grace” – Amazing Aretha

The Gospel according to The Queen

Imagine uncovering lost footage of a young Aretha Franklin making a live recording of gospel music which turned out to be the best selling gospel album of all time?  Music that was deeply rooted, because of her upbringing with having a baptist minister father.

And then finding out that Director Sydney Pollack (Out of Africa, Tootsie, The Way we Were, etc.) was the director of a two part evening filmed before a live audience at the New Missionary Baptist church in Los Angeles in 1972. But for technical reasons the film was never released.  That is, before now.

Finally unveiled, I was excited to view “Amazing Grace,” at the Palm Springs International Film Festival, watching a 29 year old Aretha at the peak of her vocal powers.  You can see Mick Jagger amongst the audience members clapping away and getting everybody to stand. They call it a documentary but this was more likely a musical of a soul-stirring experience.  A powerhouse, Aretha certainly earned her title “queen of soul.”

Gospel music is unlike anything else.  It’s not for the faint of heart.  I wanted to experience gospel in person. So on my first visit to New Orleans I made sure to visit a Baptist church on Sunday for the sole purpose of listening to a live gospel choir. My two friends and I were the only Caucasians in the church. I’m not religious but I enjoyed immensely a room so alive and full of spirit that you rarely, if ever get to witness.  It was moving.

The bottom line is that the purpose of this music is to uplift and preach the Gospel through music with the hope of bringing salvation to non-believers; and entertain all people with positive messages and values.

Uplifting and Entertaining with the most incredible voices, it was.

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