Rejoice and Shout: A Journey through Gospel Music History

Paul Harvey

The new documentary Rejoice and Shout premieres this week. It’s a documentary featuring black gospel performances over a full century, from the Dinwiddie Colored Quartet in 1902 to some contemporary stars. The film has gotten a lot of nice write-ups; the link takes you to the film's website, where you can learn more about it. Here in flyover land probably will have to wait until it moves from the “save” to the “queue” part of my Netflix list. A little bit from the NPR segment on the documentary:

Director Don McGlynn, a veteran of the music documentary genre, wanted to trace gospel from its earliest roots to its current incarnation in the music world. The film even plays the first known recording of gospel music, a record made in 1902 by the Dinwiddie Colored Quartet.

The New York Times published a substantial review of the film here; a little excerpt:

This historical survey of the genre draws heavily on the extensive archives of its producer, Joe Lauro, and is grounded in the work of two experts: Anthony Heilbut, who wrote the classic book “The Gospel Sound: Good News and Bad Times,” and Bil Carpenter, whose “Uncloudy Days: The Gospel Music Encyclopedia” chronicles the lives and careers of more than 650 gospel figures. Their analyses are supplemented by the observations of Jacquie Gales Webb, the host of a popular radio program. Mr. Heilbut’s approach is primarily scholarly and historical, and Mr. Carpenter’s is more sociological and political. Smokey Robinson, who introduces the film and offers its closing observations, sets its praiseworthy tone

If anyone wants to read the whole review but is shout out by the Times firewall, let me know and I’ll send to you.

I will be interested to see how it compares to my recent favorite in the genre of gospel documentaries, How Sweet It Was: The Sights and Sounds of Gospel’s Golden Age. This one comes as a documentary and a CD, and it features some astounding older clips; the DVD is basically a strung-together version of those full clips, so not really a “documentary” but more of a compilation. Anyway, I’m looking forward to Rejoice and Shout; if anyone reading this living around a real city gets a chance to watch it, feel free to post your thoughts here.

While you're waiting to see Rejoice and Shout, here's a great clip on Youtube that can be seen in its entirety on How Sweet it Was, for your enjoyment: The Meditation Singers doing "Sanctified Lord."