Aretha Franklin gets through barely the first two words of “Amazing Grace” before the audience in the Baptist Church she’s performing to are left stupefied.
You can see as she quietly and without fanfare steps up to a podium with a microphone and begins to sing that people are shaking their heads and rubbing their eyes in sheer disbelief at what they’re hearing and seeing, this angelic voice singing among the most spiritual of anthems.
The documentary “Amazing Grace” features footage — that due to legal issues was never before seen by the public — of Franklin recording her mega gospel album “Amazing Grace” live inside a church in South Los Angeles. Sydney Pollack captured the footage in 1972, and Alan Elliott realized the completed film.
The legendary Queen of Soul was just 29 when she recorded the album live from New Bethel Baptist Church in Watts, California, and that album would go on to become the biggest gospel album of all time, going double platinum and selling over two million copies in the U.S.
Neon picked up the film for release in December, but Franklin had previously brought legal action against the film in 2015, successfully blocking it from screening at several film festivals and arguing that the concert footage couldn’t be shown without her consent. After Franklin’s death last year, Elliott was given the go-ahead by her estate to finally show “Amazing Grace” in theaters.
Now “Amazing Grace” opens on April 5, and it will leave your jaws on the floor.
Watch the trailer above.