Amazing Grace – Aretha Franklin

BY: Sharon Fitness for GOOD.

Ladies and gentlemen, grab your church hats and your Sunday best because we’re about to take a trip down memory lane with a musical experience that’s as soulful as it gets. AMAZING GRACE, starring none other than the Queen of Soul herself, Aretha Franklin and directed by Sydney Pollack, is now streaming on GOOD. This isn’t your typical concert film – oh no, this is a spiritual journey that’ll have you dancing in your seat, waving your hands like you’re testifying in church, and wondering if your shower singing is secretly Aria-worthy.

This documentary isn’t just about Aretha’s incredible voice; it’s about the making of her live gospel album AMAZING GRACE in 1972. The setting couldn’t be more perfect. Recorded over two nights at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles, the film captures the raw energy and unadulterated spirit of gospel music. Aretha is not alone; she’s accompanied by the Southern California Community Choir, led by the charismatic Reverend James Cleveland.

Picture this: a young Aretha at the height of her career, belting out notes that could shatter glass and raise the dead, all while clad in outfits that make you question all your own wardrobe choices. And then there’s the audience – a sea of people swaying, clapping, and occasionally looking like they might burst into flames from the sheer power of the music. So you’ve got Aretha, a church, a gospel choir, and some seriously groovy ’70s fashion. It’s like a rock concert, a gospel revival, and a fashion show all rolled into one glorious extravaganza.

Now, let’s talk about the music. Aretha’s voice is like a force of nature. One minute she’s hitting those high notes with unfathomable mastery, and the next, she’s bringing it down to a sweet, soulful serenade that makes you want to hug your neighbour and shout, “Amen!” The sheer power of her vocals sends shivers down your spine, and you’ll find yourself moved to tears, laughter, and pure joy within minutes. She’s not just singing; she’s communing with the divine.

And speaking of professionals, let’s not forget the backup choir. These guys aren’t just backup singers – they’re the unsung heroes of the film, providing the harmonies and soaring improvisations that make you feel like you’re in the front row of the world’s most soulful choir practice. They’re a squad of angels that decided to take a break from heaven and grace us with their presence.

It’s hard to ignore the audience reactions. And what an audience! Along with many of the church’s regular congregants sit Mick Jagger, Charlie Watts, Aretha’s father Reverend CL Franklin and her mentor Clara Ward. People in the film are crying, swaying, and looking like they’re about to leap out of their seats and join the performance. It’s as if the spirit of Aretha has possessed them and you can almost see a fire alight inside them as they’re hit by the full force of Aretha’s soul-stirring performance. If you ever wondered what it’s like to be in a room filled with pure, unadulterated joy, this is it.

AMAZING GRACE isn’t just a documentary movie; it’s a musical experience that transcends time and genre. It’s a reminder that music can move us, uplift us, and make us forget about the world’s problems, even if it’s just for a few magical moments. Music has the power to move not just our bodies but our souls. So, whether you’re a die-hard Aretha fan or you’ve never heard a note of gospel in your life, this film will have you singing “R-E-S-P-E-C-T”, shouting “Hallelujah!” and grooving in your lounge chair. Don’t miss it – it’s a spiritual experience you can enjoy without having to change out of your pyjamas.

Watch AMAZING GRACE now on GOOD. or stream from the free GOOD app. Watch the trailer now: CLICK HERE

About the Author: Sharon Fitness is a staff writer for GOOD. She’s a movie buff, TV fan, foodie and dog lover.

Images: from the show