By Darlene Donloe
Anyone who is a fan of gospel will “Rejoice and Shout” about the documentary of the same name.
Don McGlynn’s gospel film, which opened in New York on June 3 and is set to open in Los Angeles June 24, takes an inside look at the art form that boasts the genre’s superstars like Mahalia Jackson, the Fisk Jubilee Singers, Yolanda Adams, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, The Dixie Hummingbirds, BeBe and Cece Winans, The Staples Singers, Andrae Crouch and more.
The Staples Singers
McGlynn takes a chronological look at gospel that is impressive, interesting and entertaining.
The film showcases the evolution of Gospel through its many musical styles including the integration of blues and swint, the emergence of soul and the blending of rap and hip hop.
The archival footage alone is worth the price of admission.
The documentary, produced by Joe Lauro, features Smokey Robinson, Crouch, Mavis Staples, Ira Tucker, Marie Knight, Willa Ward, Ira Tucker Jr., Anthonly Heilbut, Bill Carpenter, Jacquie Gayles Webb, The Selvy Family and Darrel Petties.
I caught up with McGlynn to talk about the documentary.
DD: Why did you want to do this documentary?
DM: It was a go project. It was about Magnolia Pictures asking me, ‘would you do this for us? We have the money’. It was crazy. It almost never happens that way.
DD: This documentary looks like it took a lot of time to research.
DM: I actually worked on this for five years. I finally got it to where I wanted it to be. It took five months of nothing but research. It was a massive project. It was 1 ½ years of interviews. It took six months of tweaking and two years of editing. There were 3,000 edits. How can you take a huge project and edit it down?
DD: When you were handed this film, what was your vision? Or did they give you their vision?
DM: Magnolia wanted to make this movie. They said, ‘We want you to do this gospel film.’ I said, ‘OK.’ They said, ‘It has to be two hours long.’ Ok! And throw in some stars. Ok!
DD: What did you know about gospel music before taking on this project?
DM: I had a pretty good familiarization. When I did research it was feeling in the gap before 1980. The intensity of it and the archival footage is uplifting. This music is powerful.
DD: This is a powerful doc.
DM: This movie provokes all kinds of emotions. Part of my job was finding clips that would do that.
DD: What is the most surprising thing you learned?
DM: I’m so proud. One day I was listening to Crossing the River Jordan. I wondered why they were singing about this. These two communities have this struggle. What I learned is - there is a strong connection between African Americans and the Old Testament.
DD: One of the best parts of the documentary is the fact that we actually hear a lot of music.
DM: Two things are essential. It’s a music film. Lets hear the music. They believe in God. These are actively passionate Christians.
DD: Was there anyone you wanted for the film, but was unable to get?
DM: Aretha agreed to do it, then changed her mind.
DD: You went old school as well as contemporary.
DM: I wanted to balance it. We’re covering 200 years. I wanted to be positive.
DD: While doing this doc, was there one moment that stood out?
DM: There were lots of them. Probably 50-100 of them. But, I remember, there was a woman who was speaking in tongues. I couldn’t shake that image.
DD: What effected you the most?
DM: When I would meet Smokey [Robinson] and saw his outlook on life – he voiced my personal concerns in the movie. These people were just good Christians.
DD: The archival footage is incredible.
DM: Joe Lauro has all this great gospel footage.
DD: You talked about having a lot of footage. Will there be a ‘Rejoice and Shout’ 2, 3, or 4?
DM: I wouldn’t mind. However, this was difficult.
DD: What is your hope for the film?
DM: I hope we screen it for church groups.
DD: Do you believe in God?
DM: I believe in God and always have. I should go to church more.
The Blind Boys of Mississippi
Other artists in the film include: The Utica Quartet, The Dinwiddie Colored Quartet, The Golden Gate Quartet, The Swan Silvertones, The Clara Ward Singers, The Five Blind Boys of Mississippi, The Blind Boys of Alabama, Reverend James Cleveland and The Edwin Hawkins Singers.
“Rejoice and Shout” is presented by Magnolia Pictures and is a Deep River Films Production.