The poster for Rejoice & Shout really doesn't do this thoroughly engaging documentary any justice. I was able to catch the Don McGlynn-directed doc this past Easter Sunday. Now, I haven't gone to church in many months, and I don't consider myself a religious individual, especially when it comes to organized religion.
I also didn't grow up around Gospel music, although I've always been well aware of the genre, and I'm a big fan of Soul and Blues. Regardless, there could not have been a better way to spend my Sunday morning than watching Rejoice & Shout, which to my surprise was streaming on Netflix!
There are so many eye-opening aspects about the roots of Gospel music, which started with slave-sung Spirituals in the U.S. Southern plantations centuries back. What's amazing is looking at the big picture. Because, although we know this, we don't really give it the significance it deserves, maybe because we're not actively conscious of it, or give it much thought.
The roots of American music: Soul, Blues, Rock n Roll to modern R&B and pop music lie in traditional African American Gospel music, and this documentary, in essence, explores that "bridging the gap." Not only that, African Americans have crafted a singing style, with all its melody, falsettos, and rhythms that have inspired and influenced all music genres ALL OVER THE WORLD up until this day.
It's definitely not solely a Black Church documentary, although the Black Church is most certainly explored through the music. Could it have focused more on the lives on these pioneer singers and their struggles? Perhaps. There's a lot covered in this this doc though, which explores the past 200 years of African American music and what we know today as the Black Church.
Rejoice & Shout however, definitely focuses on highlighting the music; it almost feels like a musical. That's not a bad thing; because there wasn't a single performance showcased that I lost interest in or wanted to end. During the viewing I kept thinking, "I want this soundtrack!"
There are many fascinating historical records, images and early recordings featured: from the Spirituals and early hymns, harmony-based quartets, Soul music and the ultimate merging to today's Hip Hop and Rap music told through Gospel icons like Mavis Staples and The Staple Singers, The Clara Ward Singers, The Dixie Hummingbirds, and Sister Rosetta Tharpe.
Rejoice & Shout is historically poignant and culturally significant. Aside from that, you'll be genuinely inspired, moved and uplifted. So, head over to Netlix and watch it, if you haven't by now.