Director: Don McGlynn
Stars: Smokey Robinson, Mavis Staples, and Willa Ward
After watching this documentary, I was left with the thought that I would have preferred this being a PBS mini-series. At two hours it was too long for a doc in the theatre but still too short to effectively convey its theme: the History of Gospel Music in America. You are hit with too many groups, too many names, and too much history.
A better approach would have been to focus on those artists that appeared in the interviews and share their lives, their history and tell their stories. It would have given focus to a long history. As is, a long time is spent on the early days of recorded Gospel music; my ass was numb and we had only gotten to the 40s. But then all of a sudden, we are in the present. Unfortunately for the filmmakers, I was not the only one with the ass-numbing symptoms–seven people left before the film ended.
This was a documentary I was truly looking forward to, but it did not work. Where it did succeed, at least for me, was in wetting my appetite for more information and more music. And oh the music; it was beautiful. I hope these filmmakers, or someone else, gets the funding to do this subject right. The History of Gospel music needs the Ken Burns treatment.
So here are my shout-outs to Mahalia Jackson, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Mavis Staples and the Staples Singers, The Selvey Family, and many more. I will be looking for your music because what I heard was great.
Grade = C