Hearing The Gospel
Above all, the most powerful component of the film is the use of gospel music to propel and enhance the story. Emotionally charged and soul-stirring,
gospel music lifts the film to another level and injects an urgency and resonance unattainable with words alone.
Music has the power to lift and transform the spirit - and that's exactly what it does to the film's characters. "If you're in a dark and dismal place," says Hardy, "you can put on a song that will inspire you and minister to your soul, one that can change your perspective or outlook on life. Simply put, gospel music is the most powerful and awe-inspiring musical genre there is." With the film's soaring vocals and power choruses joined together in roof-raising song, audiences will find it hard to keep their hands in their laps and both feet on the floor.
The filmmakers decided to let the music evolve throughout the course of the film, as gospel itself has done over the course of time. "In the beginning, the music is highly traditional," says Hardy, "but as the story progresses, it becomes more modern and contemporary to fit the characters and the dilemma of their lives." They felt this progression would help audiences find a way to fit gospel in their own lives and personalize the music.
Executive producer Davis-Carter, who grew up steeped in the traditions of the African-American church, believes the messages in the film are universal. "Sometimes people will not listen to the gospel when it's spoken," she says. "But they are almost always captured by the gospel when it's sung."
To help bring the beauty and magic of gospel to life, the filmmakers filled out their already musical cast by bringing in some of gospel's biggest names to lend their voices to the soundtrack and perform in the film. The result is awe-Ā¬inspiring - these people know how to sing.
Grammy Award-winner Donnie McClurkin plays Minister Hunter, an administrator in charge of Bishop Taylor's church's finances. Acting was something new for him, but says he had a wonderful experience with his first foray into film and loved being part of something that celebrates the music so close to his heart. "Gospel music is something that goes past my emotions. It goes past people's souls into their spirit," he says. "Gospel is the only form of music that not only cheers up a day, but can change a life."
Beloved vocalist Yolanda Adams performs in the film as herself, playing a benefit concert honoring the late Bishop Taylor. Lucky for fans, Adams debuts a new song in the film that will soon be available on her new album. "Gospel has always been a part of me," she says. "I grew up in the church and started singing in the pee-wee choir at four. This all reminds me of what I was when I was seven, eight, or nine and singing, a little kid with a big voice. With so many tragic things happening in our society, we need to know that there is still a God who can give us peace, and I think that's what gospel music does for our world."
Hezekiah Walker, another Grammy winner, plays Gordon, the director of the choir at Bishop Taylor's church. "It was great for me," says Walker, "because that's something I do as a profession - I've been directing choir for over 20 years now.
"Gospel music is not just something I do because I can do it," Walker continues. "It's something I believe in. It's something that's inside me, so I do it with urgency, seriousness. It goes out to capture what's in my heart."
The legendary Delores Winans first heard of the project from her famous daughter, Cece. "It was suggested to me by her that I do this film," Winans says. Not an actress, she laughs about what finally convinced her to agree. "When I found out what a small part I had," she says, "I said yes.
"The words to gospel music have always been comforting, wherever you find yourself in life," she continues. "If you're happy, you've got happy music. I
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