"Amazing Grace is, without a doubt, one of the finest music documentaries ever" - ★★★★ The Guardian
The queen of soul didn’t want this film of a two-night recording session to be seen, but it’s a spine-tingling sensation.
In 1972, following a string of hits and Grammy awards, Aretha Franklin decided her next project would be a return to her roots. The daughter of a Detroit preacher, Franklin secured the New Bethel Baptist church in Los Angeles for a recording session, and the result was Amazing Grace, her most successful album and the top-selling gospel recording of all time.
The musical director is the affable Rev James Cleveland, who also sings and plays piano. The Southern California Community Choir, decked out in shiny silver vests, is led by its enthusiastic conductor, Rev Alexander Hamilton. The remainder of the group include top session men, such as Bernard “Pretty” Purdie on drums and Chuck Rainey on bass. But this isn’t a studio, it’s a church loaded with sound gear and a team of cameramen buzzing around.
Four decades on, Amazing Grace offers an abundance of time-capsule treasures – the clothing, the dancing, the very visible camera gear. Pollack skitters around, pointing at members of the crowd with a “shoot that” urgency to members of his camera crew.
This event is subtitled and screened in Oscars. Spaces are limited, so please book early to avoid disappointment.