2ND UPDATE No Screening tonight. Aretha got Respect and an an injunction. Next step: Toronto.
UPDATE Aretha has filed for injunctive relief in Colorado to stop Telluride from showing “Amazing Grace.” She wants RESPECT. Stay tuned…
EARLIER Aretha Franklin doesn’t want “Amazing Grace” to play in Telluride this weekend, or next week in Toronto. She and her lawyer have made it clear to Alan Elliott– whose father Jack was a famed Hollywood composer– that he doesn’t own the rights. Alan Elliott (who’s also the first cousin of actress Gina Gershon) says he does, and the show will go on (unless it doesn’t).
Sydney Pollack filmed Aretha in 1972 with Reverend James Cleveland at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles. The recording became her double LP. The movie was never released. The record sold 2 million copies and was her best selling recording up to that point.
The musicians were like a Murders Row: they included Chuck Rainey on bass, Cornell Dupree on guitar, Kenneth Lupper on organ, Pancho Morales on percussion and conga, Bernard “Pretty” Purdie on drums.The Southern California Community Choir provided background vocals. Robert Honablue was the engineer.
The songs are pretty much all gospel with the exceptions of “You’ve Got a Friend” and “Wholly Holy.” Carole King and Marvin Gaye were their respective songwriters, and they were also the superstar writers of that moment with “Tapestry” and “What’s Going On” revolutionizing music at that moment. Franklin always was and is a canny selector of her material.
Mick Jagger and Charlie Watts are in the audience but say nothing and aren’t acknowledged. Aretha’s famous father, Reverend C.L. Franklin is there, too, along with her brother and sisters. At one point Reverend Franklin speaks to the crowd, honoring his daughter, and that’s absolutely historic.
Aretha is 30 years old in this movie. She is as much an expression of pure genius as any human being could be. She literally IS the music. Pollack captures the whole range and history of gospel’s evolution into R&B, the holy and the secular, simply by letting the camera watch Aretha perform. She is like the most skilled surgeon in the world, or the greatest scientist. The performances are a sheer joy.
These showings in Telluride may it for a while, as I know Aretha is taking some kind of legal action to prevent further ones. So don’t miss them if you’re in Telluride.