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Aretha Franklin (1942-2018) may have been best known as the “queen of soul,” but she started her stunning career singing gospel music as a teenager on tour and at home in Detroit, where her father was a star pastor. Her 1972 album, Amazing Grace – an extraordinary concert of Franklin at the peak of her powers – was her most successful record, and the best-selling live gospel album of all time. It was recorded at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Watts, Los Angeles – home to the gospel legend Reverend James Cleveland – by a team supervised by producer Jerry Wexler and in front of an audience filled with admirers, including Mick Jagger.
What is truly amazing is that this concert – a thrilling performance by Franklin in her prime – was also filmed by Oscar-winning director Sydney Pollack, yet has remained unseen and unfinished for 46 years. Audiences will finally see Franklin sing a mix of gospel standards and contemporary songs, including ”Never Grow Old,” Marvin Gaye’s “Wholy Holy,” “God Will Take Care of You,” Carole King’s “You’ve Got a Friend,” “How I Got Over,” the title track, and much more.
Although the film was originally planned to be released by Warner Bros. in 1972 (on a double bill with SUPER FLY), there was difficulty finishing the film due to synchronization issues. The film languished in the vault for decades. Alan Elliott, a producer and associate of Jerry Wexler, and editor Jeff Buchanan supervised the completion of the film and remastered the soundtrack with renowned engineer Jimmy Douglass. [ Film Forum ]