Long-lost Aretha Franklin documentary to be released
In January 1972, Aretha Franklin performed two concerts at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church, the church of gospel legend Rev. James Cleveland in Los Angeles. These shows resulted in the Grammy-winning Amazing Grace, Aretha’s best-selling album and what some have even called the greatest gospel album of all time. The album demonstrates beyond a reasonable doubt that Aretha could have easily taken Mahalia Jackson’s place as the “Queen of Gospel” upon Jackson’s 1972 death had she chosen to take her career in that direction. (Although I can still see no contender for Sam Cooke as the “King of Gospel” and yes, I am talking about that Sam Cooke.)
The album has long been a favorite of mine, but what I did not know until recently is that the two shows were filmed by legendary director Sydney Pollack. According to an article in Variety, Warner Brothers shelved the project because, “it was gospel [and] nobody knew what to do with it.”
The good news is that, after going through over 20 hours of footage, the film has finally been completed and, although there is no official release date as of yet, will be coming to DVD soon. The trailer has been released and can be seen below.