‘Amazing Grace’ Documentary Dishonors the Late Queen of Soul

Arica L. Coleman SAVE THIS


The highly anticipated documentary of the live recording of Aretha Franklin’s gospel album Amazing Grace debuted on April 5, 2019. The concert was performed over two nights in January 1972 at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Watts, California and released as a double LP six months later. It remains the most commercially successful live gospel album in history and the biggest selling of Franklin’s career, netting her a Grammy.

Unresolved technical issues and Franklin’s own resistance delayed the release of the Warner Bros. documentary for years. In her 1999 autobiography Aretha: From These Roots, Franklin remembered the concert as “quite special because it took me back to the original source of my musical inspiration.” It also reunited her with longtime friend and mentor James Cleveland. Yet Franklin negatively characterized the filming of her concert, partly because her “performances were filmed with no agreement with…

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