After spending much of the ’60s earning her rep as the reigning Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin dug up her gospel roots with her hugely successful 1972 album, Amazing Grace. The album went on to sell over two million copies, earning the well-documented distinction of being both the best-selling gospel album of all time and the biggest album of Franklin’s storied career. But what fewer folks know is that director Sydney Pollack (Jeremiah Johnson, Tootsie, The Firm) turned up with a film crew for two days at New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in L.A., where the album was recorded, to document the whole thing. Warner Brothers planned to release the film as a double-bill with Blaxploitation classic Superfly (seriously), but the idea was eventually shelved, and the film’s footage was thrown in the WB vaults for 38 years.
Time passed. Pollack died of stomach cancer in 2008. Since his death, producer Alan Elliott has pulled out the reels and revived the project. A Variety report about the documentary turned up in January, but still no word on the release date. For now, enjoy the three-minute trailer and watch a young Aretha, at the top of her game, blowing the roof off the church. [No Depression]