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KPCC Visits the Site of Aretha’s Finest Gospel Hour

We can’t think of a better way to ease into Christmas weekend than to listen to KPCC 89.3 reporter Christopher Johnson‘s 40th-anniversary look at the LA recording of Aretha Franklin‘s live double album Amazing Grace.

The sessions took place over a two-day period in 1972 at South Central’s Temple Missionary Baptist Church. Franklin laid down classic gospel tracks alongside the legendary Reverend James Cleveland and the church’s Southern California Community Choir. Tantalizingly, there is one element of the timeless concert that is still waiting in the wings:

Ten years before he shot Tootsie, Sydney Pollack had a crew document the whole thing at New Temple. No movie has been officially released, but there is a trailer. In it, you can see Aretha ease down the aisle, through the standing ovation. Elegant. For sure, a queen – not just of soul, but of this moment, too. Her kaftan like light green sea spray. Sequined.

For the ten-minute Take Two piece, Johnson talked with Pastor Alexander Hamilton, who directed the choir on both nights, as well as a father-and-daughter congregant pair that treasure their Amazing Grace memories. The dad, John Ford, also thinks it would be great if Aretha helped out the now struggling church by coming back for a special reminiscence event. Audio here.

[Album cover courtesy: Atlantic Records]

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