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Aretha Franklin’s Amazing Grace on the silver screen

After decades of waiting, the film of Aretha Franklin’s Amazing Grace has finally reached the silver screen. Filmed over two days at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles, Amazing Grace is the best-selling gospel album of all time. The new documentary about the live album uncovers the glamour and glory of those two days. Lucky for us, Aaron Cohen’s 33 1/3 can also take us behind the scenes.

The Amazing Grace documentary, which was released on April 5, has been produced from what was once unusable footage – abandoned for decades because the original filmmakers forgot the appropriate equipment to match the video to the audio recording from those two days of Franklin’s performances. But using new digital technologies, filmmaker Alan Elliott has spent years synchronizing the footage so that we can all witness the live audience and heavenly atmosphere of this album.

The documentary shows a radiant and sweaty Franklin, crowds filled with tear-strewn faces, the Southern California Community Choir in shiny silver jackets, and a somber Mick Jagger in the back row. The footage is choppy and raw. It stands as a moving window into the album’s making, and most importantly, into Aretha Franklin’s commanding performance. And for an even more comprehensive understanding of this moment’s great power in the history of Aretha Franklin’s life and career, we can turn to Aaron Cohen’s 33 1/3.

Cohen delivers an expert critique of the album, accompanied by theological analysis, archival research, and interviews with the people who made those two days so iconic. For those who have been listening to Amazing Grace for decades and who now get to witness Franklin’s performance, Cohen’s book will shed even more light on her musical evolution and stunning legacy. Head to a theater to see Amazing Grace, and turn to Cohen when you just can’t get enough of the Queen of Soul.


Grab a copy of Aaron Cohen’s 33 1/3, Aretha Franklin’s Amazing Grace on our website.

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