Rejoice and Shout
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REJOICE & SHOUT covers 200 years of musical history of African-American Christianity, featuring the legends of Gospel music, including The Staple Singers, The Clara Ward Singers, The Dixie Hummingbirds, and Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Culled from hundreds of hours of music, tracing the evolution of gospel music through its many styles the spirituals and early hymns, the four-part harmony-based quartets, the integration of blues and swing, the emergence of soul, and the blending of rap and hip-hop elements. It connects the history of African-American culture with gospel as it first impacted popular culture at large and captures so much of what is special about this music and African-American Christianity.
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This is a documentary of Black American Gospel music which mixes OUTSTANDING perfomances with some learned commentary that rarely gets in the way.
This is similar to another gospel documentary DVD entitled "The Story of Gospel Music," which features many of the same artists and a couple of the same commentators, but this DVD has a better selection of Gospel performances.
This film begins with a lovely child doing a powerful version of Amazing Grace. Then we hear from Smokey Robinson (doing commentary) and we see the legendary Ira Tucker Sr. (I'm proud to say he's my homeboy from Spartanburg SC) of the Dixie Hummingburds along with Ira Jr. and the sister of gospel legend Clara Ward commenting from a theater in Philadelphia. The performances dig deep. We get some quartets from the early 1900s singing Negro Spirituals in glee club and barbershop type harmony (one VERY rare clip from a 1922 Lee Deforest experimental sound film has the Utica Quartet singing "Deep River") along with the Norfolk Jubilee Quartet and the Rust College (from Holly Springs, Miss.) choir. We also get into some CLASSIC mind-bending performances from the Dixie Hummingbirds and the Swan Silvertones (apparently at Newport in the 1960s) that truly have to be seen to be believed! The legendary "TV Gospel Tme" show from the 1960s features the 5 Blind Boys from Alabama, a young James Cleveland singing solo, a young Shirley Ceaser and the Caravans, Brother Joe May (briefly), and Sister Rosetta Tharpe's rocking guitar on "Down by the Riverside." Clara Ward and her crew turn in a frenzied (but obiously choreographed) perfromance that can leave you dizzy and out of breath, sort of a gospel version of James Brown & his Famous Flames! Vintage performances by the Staples Singers (with a very cute young chimpmunk-cheeked Mavis doing lead-no womder Bob Dylan had a crush on her) appear with comments from the Mavis of today.
Of course Mahalia Jackson is along for the ride, and a vintage clip of the Edwin Hawkins Singers "Oh Happy Day" is (as it was in 'The Story of Gospel Music") interrupted by commentary (why? Why? WHY?) but more of the song appears here than in the earlier documentary. Andrae Crouch is shown in a vintage 1970s clip of the foundation of contemporary gospel, and he also does some present day commentary.
Fans of more contemporary gospel artists shoud be warned that this is an old school affair. The Winans and Kirk Franklin appear briefly near the end along with some modern church choirs, but do not expect the likes of Fred Hammond and Mary Mary, et. al. However, Smokey gives some rather pointed and thought-provoking comments on the controversy over traditional vs. contemporary gospel music.
On the whole, unless you are a militant athiest (and if you are, you may not appreciate Smokey's remarks about athiesm early in the film), its hard to see how anyone would not like this film. No matter how some may disagree with the theology, this some some powerful and positive music that will make you want to get up out of your seat, say YEAH, and put the psychologists out of business! Learn and enjoy.
PS-For more of the vintage footage from TV Gospel Time, get the DVD set THE SOUL OF GOSPEL.
Just watching this movie, it was like being at a Revival. From the church, many of the R&B singers fashioned their singing style after many of these popular gospel singers. Claude Jeter of The Swan Silvertones, Godfather of Falsetto. Many R&B singers, Eddie Kendricks, of the Temptations and Eddie Holman, fashioned their singing style after Jeter. Was surprised to see that Mark Cuban was the executive producer of this uplifting film.