Gospel music documentary a spiritual awakening

Wed Jun 22, 2011 5:14pm EDT
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By Dean Goodman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A white American expatriate living in Denmark has become the first filmmaker to direct a documentary feature about black gospel music.

"Rejoice and Shout," which has just begun a limited run in North American theaters, traces the 200-year evolution of gospel from southern slave plantations to the modern-day blending of urban pop elements.

It includes rare, full-length performance footage dating back to the 1920s, uplifting religious scenes, and interviews with the likes of late Dixie Hummingbirds lead singer Ira Tucker, Sr., Mavis Staples and Smokey Robinson.

The film narrows its focus to 15 artists, including the Golden Gate Quartet, the Dixie Hummingbirds, the Swan Silvertones, Thomas Dorsey, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Mahalia Jackson and Andrae Crouch.

"Rejoice and Shout" was directed by Don McGlynn ("The Howlin' Wolf Story"), and produced by Joe Lauro who owns a film archive boasting more than 30,000 individual musical performances.

McGlynn, 55, who lives in Copenhagen with his Danish wife and their children, said in a recent interview that he was introduced to gospel as a youngster when he saw Mahalia Jackson -- "the queen of gospel" -- on television, just like "every little kid in America.


"Then I started seeking it out more in particular," McGlynn added. "Among the greatest shows I've ever seen and certainly the most intense show I ever saw was James Cleveland with his choir (in the early 1980s). I literally thought the walls were gonna come down, it was so intense!   Continued...