I recently watched the incredible film Amazing Grace which documents the two nights Aretha Franklin spent in 1972 at Los Angeles’ New Temple Missionary Baptist Church recording her live gospel album. It’s magical, majestic, powerful and inspiring. The New York Times said it’s “one of the most astounding performances anyone’s ever given of anything.” I agree. Do yourself a favor and see it. Pronto.
Besides Aretha’s staggering genius, what also captivated me was the solidarity between her, the choir, the musical director, her family and the audience. Everyone is there to lift everyone else up. You can just feel Aretha being urged on to greater and greater musical heights. One beautiful moment in the film that perfectly captures this solidarity occurs when Aretha’s father, the Reverend C.L. Franklin, comes over and gently wipes her brow while she sings her heart out to “Amazing Grace.”
True solidarity occurs when there is no division between artist and audience. They come together as one to make something beautiful.
This is art at its highest and most spectacular form.