Half concert flick, half historical documentary, Rejoice and Shout is an unabashed celebration of glorious gospel music. The picture traces the genre’s roots all the way back to when slaves first began mixing Christianity with African culture and their desire for salvation from their plight.
The film was directed by Don McGlynn (Dexter Gordon: More Than You Know), who unearthed a treasure trove of archival footage of legendary greats like Mahalia Jackson, The Clara Ward Singers, James Cleveland, The Dixie Hummingbirds and The Blind Boys of Alabama, touted here as the most successful gospel group of all time. Plenty of their more contemporary counterparts such as Andrae Crouch, Yolanda Adams, Shirley Caesar and Mavis Staples also appear whether to sing and/or discuss the derivation of some of their favorite spirituals.
The movie’s most spellbinding moment arrives right after the opening credits when an adorable, 12 year-old member of The Selvy Family delivers a soul-stirring, a cappella rendition of “Amazing Grace” while sitting in a church pew surrounded by smiling relatives. Whether detailing the contributions of the late Thomas A. Dorsey who composed over 40 gospel standards or how Edwin Hawkins wrote countless hits after recording his debut “Oh Happy Day!” album for $500, Rejoice and Shout offers an alternately informative and uplifting experience as likely to have you clapping your hands and stamping your feet as any sanctified Sunday morning service.
Can I get an Amen?