Aretha Franklin’s ‘Amazing Grace’ Documentary To Be Released After Almost 50 Years

Contributed by Anaya Ray 

An Aretha Franklin concert documentary is finally being released after being recorded and filmed back in 1972.

The documentary titled “Amazing Grace” will feature Franklin’s legendary performances at New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles.

Sydney Pollack, director of the long-awaited documentary, said before Franklin’s passing her niece, Sabrina Owens, considers the “heart and soul of Aretha Franklin.”

“This film is authentic and is my aunt at her core. She was a daughter of the church, she loved gospel music, and she always incorporated some form of sacred music in her concerts,” continued Owens in a statement according to Essence.

The film, as reported by The Guardian, was shot throughout two nights in January 1972 in Los Angeles.The film shows the soulful singer, 30-years-old at the time, returning to her gospel roots.

The album that came from the two nights in 1972, “Amazing Grace”, sold more than 2 million copies in the United States and continues to be the highest selling live gospel album in history.

The reason for the delay over the years on the documentary has to do with the sound recording not properly matching the live footage. This left over 15 hours of film untouched and left behind in the Warner Brothers vaults.

Even after this set back, producer Alan Elliot bought the footage in 2007 and restored it. Elliot expected the documentary to hit the big screen at the Toronto and Telluride film festivals in 2015, but Franklin’s lawyers blocked the release stating that permission to use the footage was only granted to Pollack.

Despite rejection from Franklin’s lawyers, Elliot showed a private screening of the film to the singer’s family and estate.

Owens, Franklin’s niece, said in a statement that the film is, “very moving and inspirational, an opportunity for those individuals who had not experienced her in a gospel context to see how diverse her music is.”

Because of Owens, legal clearance was granted to Elliot and the film is being considered for the 2019 Oscars.

“Amazing Grace” will premiere on November 12th at the DOC NYC Festival in New York.

WHUR Contributor

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