Well, our next film is REJOICE AND SHOUT, a documentary about the history of gospel music. The film combines interviews with gospel musicians and historians with some ferocious archival footage of classic gospel performances.
CLIP 1 / emphasis on the Jackie Verdell / Brother Joe May singing part of the clip
The film starts all the way at the beginning, explaining gospel’s roots in plantation work songs and the barbershop-quartet-like religious music of the late 19th century.
CLIP 5 / Along the way, elder statesman and stateswomen of gospel draw on their memories of living, working and worshipping in the first half of the 20th century.
Now, REJOICE AND SHOUT loses a lot of steam once it goes past the 1960s. The 1980s, for instance, are dispatched with just a few passing references to the massively popular Winans family, and much of the latter part of the film feels like a commercial for the constantly touted talents of songwriter and pastor Andraé Crouch. But the performances unearthed by director Don McGlynn—most of which are presented in full—are just so energetic and captivating. Five minutes of Claude Jeter singing falsetto with the Swan Silvertones more than makes up for some of this film’s shortcomings. It’s a thumbs up from me.
Thumbs up for me, too, for the music alone, they show Mahalia Jackson singing on the Ed Sullivan show and again it’s one of those full performances, and it’s just breathtaking. Um, I almost wish it had been about less, I feel like he tries to encompass way too much. You feel like your going to be quizzed on it at the end of it, and I don’t know anything at all about gospel, and I feel like I wish I could have known more about individual artists, individual bands rather than trying to get everything in.
Yeah, this movie is constructed out of roughly ten minute chunks where five minutes people talk about an artist, and then for five minutes you watch…
You see them sing.
You see them sing and when you see them sing it’s amazing. I mean, you know, Brother Joe May and the Dixie Hummingbirds, those are really amazing performances, and in some cases, you know, the movie uses sort of a split screen where your seeing them from two different angles, and all of those are really great, but it is a bit overlong.
Right, I mean you need the talking heads of course to contextualize the performances and how the genre has changed throughout the years, but it just feels overwhelming to me and then again as you say the Winans are done in two minutes and Kirk Franklin is mentioned like once, maybe, but music alone, you don’t have to even be religious to be moved by it and I was.