For two nights in January of 1972, Aretha Franklin recorded her "Amazing Grace" gospel album in the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles. In this documentary, the viewer sees the details of the recording which was accompanied by the Reverend James Cleveland (also a musical artist), local musicians and choir singers, and a live congregation audience.
The period that began in the mid-1960s and ended some time in the 1980s was among the best eras for American entertainment. "Amazing Grace" and the Amazing Aretha prove the point further and up the ante. Add to that one of the greatest forms of music: African-American gospel.
I do know that I was conscious every moment of watching this film yet I was so exhilarated by Franklin's singing that it sometimes felt like I was in some kind of a trance. If it is like this for someone watching it on film over four decades later, what must it have been like to witness it live? And of course, what is it like to have such amazing talent and project it so stunningly?
The close-ups help a bit to understand that last question. Among the beads of sweat, it is spellbinding to see Franklin's shining eyes and glittering face as she belts out high notes. Regardless of whether or not one is a believer, the creation of this concert recording and the great talent at its centre are ample proof that a higher spirit does drop in on our crazy planet every now and then.