Only on Hush
Grammy Award-winning Gospel Choir Jubilation Commemorates “Black Music Month” with 20th Anniversary Reunion Gala
Every year since 1979, the month of June has been recognized internationally, though mostly in the western world, as “Black Music Month”. The month of celebratory recognition and historical enrichment was first established by the 39th United States President Jimmy Carter. It is still widely supported today as President Barak Obama described in his 2016 proclamation, the richness of culture that African-American artists and music have helped America “to dance, to express our faith through song, to march against injustice, and to defend our country's enduring promise of freedom and opportunity for all.”
After a terrible stroke, Rev. Dr. Stefanie R. Minatee, founder and artistic director of Grammy Award-winning gospel choir ‘Jubilation’, took a break from the choir without knowing when or if she could ever return. Well, God has bigger plans than any stroke or life-threatening incident. As there could not be a more opportune time for the Jubilation Gospel Choir to reunite with their founder, Minatee is back and ready for more of God.
In an interview with Billboard, Minatee shares how grateful she is to be alive and to still be able to spread God’s goodness in her life:
“God kept me here for a purpose. I’m grateful for the opportunity to be alive and still minister. Most stroke victims can’t talk or move, but he spared me. And I want to share with the world what he’s done."
In honor of this great reunion, the famous gospel choir held a prestigious gala event at their home theater, the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, on June 22nd, 2019. Not only was this event held to celebrate 20 years of incredible gospel music, but it was also the very first-time Minatee performed in that theater since before her stroke.
While Jubilation was always known throughout the gospel music scene, it was not until their featured debut on Queen Latifah’s 2009 compilation album called “Oh Happy Day: An All-Star Music Celebration” that the group was officially recognized for and awarded and Grammy. Following this, the group had the incredible opportunity to sing with Latifah in the 2010 Super Bowl. Latifah served as an honorary chair for the Jubilation reunion event, as her mother is a close friend to Minatee and member of the choir.
At the gala, Jubilation performed songs from over six albums and even sang a new song for honored guests called “It’s All About You”. This project captured the complete inspiration and witness of Minatee’s most difficult times since the stroke and how the Lord’s presence was always there for her. She states, “I’m talking on the single as I couldn’t sing the way I wanted to, but it’s a blessing.”
Minatee anxiously prepared for this celebratory night and all the joy that it will bring people. As she was joined on stage by singers from all over the country, she was overwhelmed with the support from all and looks forward to a new inspiring season with her beloved, Jubilation.
On August 16th we will remember one year since Aretha Franklin left our world and imprinted our hearts forever. A day that will remain in history as a day we all lost a bit of soul. Imagining a world of music without such an incredible talent has in no way become any easier with time. She was not only an astounding vocalist, but a lover of many with an infectious spirit, and a timeless icon in gospel music.
Whether you are a believer in Christ or not, some performers carry a sense of godliness in them that comes from their spirit when they sing. Franklin was one of those vocalists that causes you to look to God because of the richness of the soul in everything she did and in each performance.
In 1972, at the age of thirty years old, Aretha Franklin was hosted by the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church of Los Angeles, California for a two-night special performance. However, no one could have believed this would become the biggest selling live gospel album in history. Altogether, the production was set to be a powerful and moving expression of art and media but was left untouched (for the most part) and unseen by most of the world, until now.
The art of Reconstruction
The new film titled Amazing Grace is one of its kind. The phenomenon of mixing media and arts to produce something wonderful that has never been done before is not simply creating something that is new but rather an entire experience that has never been had. Oscar winner Sydney Pollack was brought on to direct multicamera footage of the entire two-day performance, all taking place in the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church.
Due to the quality and abilities of filmography from the early 1970s being much less advanced than what we consider to be ‘workable’ now, the footage sat unedited for decades. It was not until very recently that the correct digital editing technology was even created to reconstruct the footage. Producer Alan Elliot became interested in the project that was becoming more relevant as film production became more advanced.
The Worship Experience
The Guardian describes Elliot’s work on the film by Pollack to capture both the hive of musical activity and fervor or religious ecstasy that thronged through that church all those years ago. There is always a greater sense of intimacy between the artists and listeners when there is a raw visual performance, much like the experience of going to a concert versus listening in your headphones. Amazing Grace brings us directly into the intimacy of that worship experience that took place almost 50 years ago.
Overall, the project is one of its kind that has never been done before. The art of bringing an audience into such an intimate and spirit-filled experience that was had so long ago and giving it new power and strength constitutes an utter masterpiece. The film has had a gradual release, as it has been featured throughout 2018 in various film festivals across the US. It officially released in the UK last week, with additional scheduled releases in other countries throughout the summer. Check out the official trailer for Aretha Franklin’s new tribute film “Amazing Grace”