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Quick Review: Must-See Doc "Rejoice & Shout" Now Streaming On Netflix

by Vanessa Martinez
April 10, 2012 9:44 PM
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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.

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  • Tamara | April 19, 2012 10:26 AMReply

    I felt the documentary was good in exploring the beginnings of gospel music; the foundation, as it were. I was particularly awed by the recording, the first recording done of a gospel group singing in barbershop quartet-style. I loved the highlights of those groups and the solo sista singers, particularly Rosetta Tharpe. Fascinating! What I didn't like about it was towards the end of the second act, where the 60s era of flower children and civil rights and war, etc. began in history, the film seemed to take a turn for "let's hurry up and finish this". I was surprised that they did not mention one of the best quartets in the history of gospel music: The Mighty Clouds of Joy. Their career spanned the 60s, 70s, and the 80s and not to mention they have one of the most favored and memorable gospel songs ever: "Walk Around Heaven All Day" sung by Paul Beasley! Obviously I am biased, but c'mon! They highlight Kirk Franklin and not the Mighty Clouds of Joy?! LOL Anyhoo, overall I DID enjoy the documentary. Just wish they could have included more...

  • Ava | April 13, 2012 9:17 PMReply

    Saw this documentary some time ago. Really enjoyed it. Well done.

  • CareyCarey | April 10, 2012 11:31 PMReply

    "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" ~by Vanessa Martinez. That's very interesting. Over the last 2 years of visiting S&A I've noticed that position seems to be the general consensus of Shadow and Act's writers and most of it's readers. I believe Tambay has said he's an atheist and Sergio has voiced his concerns about black pastors and the Black Church (he doesn't like them or it). More importantly, nearly every single film that's remotely related to religion gets an evil-eye and a poo-poo around these neck of the woods. However, imo, although Tambay decided not to review Woman Thou Art Loosed, I believe most Christian Themed film are fairly reviewed(for the most part). Tambay simply said. "instead of beating it up in a review, I figured I'd just leave you all to see it for yourselves; the audience I saw it with at PAFF (a packed house) seemed to mostly love it". So it appears as if the favorable opinion on "Christian" films (at S&A) is "get out of here". So maybe that explains Vannessa's need to submit here disclaimer prior to giving this doc a thumbs up? Maybe she didn't want to be attached to "that" crowd? You know, the old guilt by a association thing?

  • CareyCarey | April 11, 2012 1:01 PM

    You're right Sergio, you did not say that about the Black Church. However, by a natural extention you inferred such. Why would you "like" or go to a place inwhich you did not respect it's leader? And again, re-visiting our conversation ( a flash from the past) I will again say your characterization of "most" black pastors is a lot of poppycock. First, you can only, or should only indentify the skeletons in your closet. So it's unreasonable for you to speak on "most peoples" closets. Second, I think it's safe for me to assume that I've been seated in a hundred times more church pews than you, and I am yet to hear a black preacher proclaim that they are "holier than thou". I am suggesting that it's unwise to define the "Black Church" by the indiscretions of a few. More importantly, I am not going to hit you with scripture, however, most individuals who consider themselves "chuch goers" knows one of their first responsibilities is to study the word for yourself.... "My people perish for lack of knowledge"

  • Sergio | April 11, 2012 11:56 AM

    I didn't say I didn't like the black church. I said that I find that most black pastors are rank hypocrites. They have more skeletons in their closets than most people while spouting that they're "holier than thou"

  • CareyCarey | April 11, 2012 11:01 AM

    OH GOODIE, I see a fly in the web. Hello Nadine, you're just what the doctor ordered. You've just made my point. You threw a blanket over "church folks" and then continued to point out all the things YOU believe are wrong about organized religion "really anywhere on the planet". RE: It's the churches responsibility for how "THEY" are rightly perceived??!! Really?! Seriously?! First, who are "They" and how do you propose they change the minds of individuals that make unjust and ambiguous statements such as yours? Listen Nadine, I have no idea who you are referring to and I certainally know there are many individuals who go to church who are not looking for a "pass". And please, so you've seen mean, judgmental, and the most hypocritical people in the church. **scrugging shoulders**... And your point is? I see those same types of people every single day, everywhere I go, who ARE NOT attached to a religion or church. So again, what's your point? Look Nadine, most people who go to church do not do so because they have arrived. NO NO NO, they go to find help and direction. Consequently, a "church-goer" comes in all forms of human frailties. I can go on about this but I'll close by highlighting something you said, which speaks directly to your misunderstanding and closed position. You said, "I find it hard to find anything holy about a Woman Thou Art Loosed, Tyler Perry type movie. You'll never hear me talk about Perry because there is no reasoning with his fans". WHAT!? HOLY?! No reasoning with Tyler's fans?! First, who is Tyler's fans... oh... that's right, church folks! You feel me? Continuing... What is "trying to reason with them"? About what... church, God, religion, movies, the Bible, what? After reading your comments Nadine, I believe you're the one who's so entrenched in your opinion that you will never be moved, or even consider looking at the issue from a different perspective. Lastly, how does HOLY, or how did "HOLY" fit in this discussion!? Nadine, it's never been about being better than others, nor about one being holier than thou. It's about the messages one can receive, which they can use to be a better person. It's an individual journey and you (or whomever) will surely get what they/you're looking for.

  • Nadine | April 11, 2012 10:00 AM

    @CC - we posted around the same time... you can ignore my post.

  • Nadine | April 11, 2012 9:57 AM

    The church and Christianity are not synonymous with each other at all. These are church movies. What you may be hearing in terms of the dissonance between some and organized religion is the hypocrisy that is evident when one is on the outside looking in to organized religion, really anywhere on the planet. I was in the South for a number of years and traveled throughout the Midwest and some of the meanest, judgmental, most hypocritical people were church folk. Straight mean...and pretty universal. For those who make claims against the church structure, it is clear to them, more often than not, that their focus should lie in the scripture without worshiping false idols such as a minister, preacher, preachers wife, youth minister, etc... What happens, though, is that one is more likely to become lax with their study of the Word and simply drift away without realizing it without that organized space. The church has to take some responsibility for how they are rightly perceived. They do not get the "holy" pass just because they have claimed a building and call it a church and I find it hard to find anything holy about a Woman Thou Art Loosed, Tyler Perry type movie. You'll never hear me talk about Perry because there is no reasoning with his fans so, know that I'm not trying to talk about TP right now, or really ever. Maybe one day.

  • CareyCarey | April 11, 2012 9:51 AM

    Thanks Vanessa. I was wrong for throwing a blanket over you, I am sorry. I should have simply said "Christian" films and/or films that may have a religious message, do not receive the most love by the readers of S&A. I believe that would be a fair statement and maybe a justifiable statement. I mean, I'll be the first to say (and have said) that most Black Church themed films fall short in many areas (imo). Maybe I am more concerned with the phrase "That Church going crowd" because it's frequently used as a negative connotation. Yep, I am probably guilty of using your post (a good post btw) to vent my frustration on the tolerance, acceptance and misuse of that phrase.

  • Vanessa | April 11, 2012 7:31 AM


    Not at all actually. I don't have any preconceived notions about Church centered films; in fact, I've enjoyed quite a few of them. A good film is a good film, whether they focus on church, spirituality etc.. I was actually trying to make a point. There are readers who aren't "church-goers" regardless of their beliefs. There may be some people that at a quick glance at the poster and the synopsis immediately dismiss the film and say, "Oh, that's a Church documentary," for whatever reason. By the way, I wasn't trying to appease to a "crowd." Everyone has their own beliefs. Whatever Sergio and Tambay's personal beliefs are, they certainly have no bearing on mine; we haven't made a pact or anything :). I just said I haven't been to Church in months, so, I'm not a "practicing" Christian by those standards. I never meant to discuss my personal relationship with God in one sentence. Lastly, I have a lot of respect for the Black Church, especially its origins, which is also the reason why I really appreciated this documentary.

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