Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Soul Fixin'

This summer, Congress declared the month of September National Gospel Heritage Month. Speaking of the sacred musical form, in the wake of the death of Atlantic Records executive Jerry Wexler it has been revealed that Wexler was working on bringing a long-dormant documentary about the making of Aretha Franklin's best-selling 1972 album Amazing Grace to the big screen. Sister ReRe is revered around these parts, the idea of an Amazing Grace doc is glorious news indeed. For many, Amazing Grace proved to be their first introduction to the sounds of gospel. For those of us raised in the church, gospel music was nothing new but Aretha's Amazing Grace was nothing short of amazing. In the presence of her father, Rev. C.L Franklin, and her gospel mentors Rev. James Cleveland and Clara Ward, Aretha took all her troubles to Jesus and in the process took us on a scared musical journey of uninhibited conviction and sobering confessional intensity. Wexler enlisted Sidney Pollack to shoot the two day performance at Los Angeles' New Temple Missionary Baptist Church. In the aftermath of the recording, Atlantic Records and Warner Bros. Pictures failed to reach an agreement with Aretha over terms for her cooperation in the picture. As a result, the film languished in the studio's vault for 36 years. In January, former Atlantic record producer Alan Elliot caught wind of the sacred footage and encouraged Mr. Wexler to start looking for funding for the film. Wexler found a potential backer in fellow musician industry icon Chris Blackwell. Mr. Blackwell says he has been in discussions to help finance the film but a definitive agreement hasn't been set. Aretha is asking for a cool $1 million. It's a known fact that numerous Aretha projects have failed to see the light of day but let's pray this one does.