To piece the documentary together, McGlynn, sifted through hundreds of hours of filmed performances from the voluminous library of producer-archivist Joe Lauro. "A lot of my decision-making was based on gut reaction," says the director, who has made a dozen musical documentaries in the past 25 years. "If I had an extraordinary response to a clip, I would include it. In the case of Mahalia Jackson's appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1952, there was no doubt about it from the beginning. It's the first clip that exists of her."
Besides being a student and ardent fan of gospel's original artists, McGlynn admires contemporary gospel performers like Kirk Franklin, who created the first million-selling gospel album. He wishes he could have included more interviews with a new generation of artists who are carrying the gospel tradition into the 21st century. "Many people who are doing the rap stuff are really good," says McGlynn, who also had high praise for the Selvy family, a family group from Memphis who perform near the end of the film. "They're not throwing their history out the window. They love the hymns but they're not afraid to have a hip-hop beat. It's great to consider where you came from and keep looking forward to where you could go."
Craigh Barboza is the Editor of MyDVDinsider.com