Movie Mom

Movie Mom


Interview: Don McGlynn of Gospel Documentary ‘Rejoice and Shout’

posted by Nell Minow

Don McGlynn is the director of a raise-the-roof documentary about gospel music fittingly called “Rejoice and Shout.” It is a thrilling compendium filled with history but more importantly, filled with music. The people are wonderful and McGlynn gives us full performances of the gorgeous music of the past and the present.

How did you find those amazing archival clips?

It was an enormous job finding it. I’ve been working with my producer partner Joe Lauro, who has been gathering this stuff for 20 years. It was daunting to go through all the material but even the middling clips were so inspiring. And the ones we used I’m very thrilled with. There were a number of gospel shows around the country. We got a lot from “TV Gospel Time” and some from “Jubilee,” a show out of Chicago. Joe is so determined and so interested that he wanted to see everything. And that means we got to use clips that had never been exhibited. We think of the beginning of movies with sound as “The Jazz Singer” in 1927. But we found one clip that pre-dates that, from 1922. And after “The Jazz Singer” all these newsreel crews went out to make sound films. About 30 minutes into our movie we have five or six clips of footage almost 90 years old that had never been edited before. There was a lot of archeology going on!

One of my favorite parts of the movie was tracing the way that gospel and pop and rock music influenced and enriched each other, sometimes uneasily.

One of the great things about gospel music was the way they took the whole concept of the barbershop quartet and twisted it and changed it around so much that it became this very elaborate, fascinating kind of music. As much as I love all of the quartets we have in the film, like the Dixie Hummingbirds and the Golden Gate Quartet, I think it’s fair to say they’re kind of unthinkable without the Mills Brothers. There’s this back and forth feeding of gospel into pop and vice versa.

And you show the influence gospel and folk had with each other, with Bob Dylan a big fan of the Staples Singers and performing with them.

It’s conscious music and it was a good time for both of them to sing those songs. That was a great meeting point. I’m a Minnesotan, too, an Irish Catholic boy, up there isolated in the frozen north, so it is heartening to me that Dylan, also from Minnesota, was listening to the Staples. We feel so isolated but that doesn’t mean we can’t find the world somehow.

YouTube Preview Image

How would you describe the importance of gospel in the African-American churches?

When you go to a Baptist church, it’s very similar to my experience in a Catholic church, but there’s more going on. You have the sermons, and the collections, and music. In gospel you feel that there’s this commitment for the daily experience. People say, “I go to church at nine and get home about six.” And it’s never boring! It’s a blast. It’s also like the newspaper of the community, to find out what is going on with everyone, what this meant morally and ethically, of course frequently referring back to the Bible.

Does the experience of singing gospel music bring the singer closer to God? Is it a form of prayer?

That’s maybe the point of my movie. In order for these people to sing so beautifully, having this religious and emotional and spiritual connection to the music brings it really to life. It’s inescapable. There were two things that were important to me. One was that this is a music movie so let’s have full performances of the songs. And these people are really religious, so let’s talk about what God and church mean to them. They’re artists who are expressing themselves because of how they feel about these subjects.



Previous Posts

Summer Summer-y: The Summer Movies of 2014
A few concluding thoughts on the summer movies of 2014: A good summer for food movies: "The Chef," "The 100-Foot Journey," and "The Trip to Italy" had some big-time actors but the real stars were the luscious meals. A bad summer for comedies: "22 Jump Street" was uneven, but at least it had so

posted 3:46:47pm Aug. 31, 2014 | read full post »

The Last Leonard Maltin Movie Guide
Leonard Maltin was only 17 years old when he was offered the chance to create his guide to movies on television. For many years, I kept the latest copy on my desk and anyone who came into my office could pick a page number at random. If I had not seen any of the movies on that page, I had to buy t

posted 8:00:33am Aug. 31, 2014 | read full post »

"Let's Be Cops" Could Have Been Not Terrible
"Let's Be Cops" is a dumb movie that wants to be like "Lethal Weapon" or "The Other Guys," a comedy action film about buddies with badges. It's moderate box office returns are possibly in part because the unrest in Ferguson and news stories about police brutality made the timing bad for a cop comed

posted 11:35:46am Aug. 30, 2014 | read full post »

Bang Bang Bang Bang Bang Bang -- Beyonce, Cher, Ariana Grande, Nicki Minaj, and Jesse J
Two hit tunes from the hottest pop divas are both called "Bang Bang."  One is Beyoncé's sultry, glamorous cover of the Cher oldie in this teaser for her HBO special. [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6WebQaN7Lbs[/youtube] Ariana Grande, Jesse J, and Nicki Minaj have an unrelated song

posted 9:00:40am Aug. 30, 2014 | read full post »

Contest: Hey Arnold! The Complete Series
The football-headed Arnold and all his pals are here in this box set with all 99 adventures from the beloved Nickelodeon series. It's available exclusively at Walmart, but I have a copy to give away! Send

posted 12:20:14pm Aug. 29, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.