“Spring Into Music” series concludes Apr. 26 with Aretha Franklin doc “Amazing Grace,” presented by Thabisa

Best Video Film & Cultural Center concludes our April “Spring Into Music” film series with the documentary “Amazing Grace” on Tues., Apr. 26. The event will begin at 7 PM with an introduction by New Haven-based Afro-soul singer and activist Thabisa, who will also lead a post-film discussion. Admission is $7.

This is an indoor show so proof of vaccination is required to enter and masks are required.

Support for this series has been provided to Best Video Film & Cultural Center from CT Humanities (CTH), with funding provided by the Connecticut State Department of Economic and Community Development/Connecticut Office of the Arts (COA) from the Connecticut State Legislature.

The series is sponsored by Greenberg Rhein & Margolis Insurance of Woodbridge, CT.

“Amazing Grace” documents the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin recording her live gospel album of the same name at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles in 1972. Because the original director, Sydney Pollack, had not use clapperboards in the filming, it was believed the sound could not be accurately synched with the film footage; the unreleased film sat on the shelf for decades. Alan Elliott purchased the rights in 2007 and successfully synchronized the visuals and sound. The film was released with the approval of Franklin’s family in 2018.

At the performance, Franklin was accompanied by the Southern California Community Choir, directed by Alexander Hamilton. James Cleveland is master of ceremonies and plays piano. The band is Cornell Dupree, Bernard Purdie, Chuck Rainey, Kenny Luper, and Poncho Morales. “Amazing Grace” was the best-selling record of Aretha Franklin’s career and won the 1973 Grammy Award for Best Gospel Performance.

Thabisa’s story begins in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Born and raised by her grandparents in KwaZakhele township, she could always be found singing and dancing outside her home. Neighbors gave her the name “Little Brenda” for the legendary South African pop star Brenda Fassie.

In 2012 she entered the national singing competition, Idols South Africa, and finished in the Top 18. The following year, she signed on with the independent record label Tammy Music and produced two albums, “Eyodidi” (2015) and “The Journey” (2013).

Thabisa received a nomination for Best Video at the South African Traditional Music Awards (SATMA) for the song “Vula” off her first album, The Journey. Musically, she finds inspiration from the likes of Miriam Makeba and Billy Holiday, and has shared a stage with living legends Caiphus Simenya, Bebe and Cece Winans, Thandiswa Mazwai and Freshly Ground.

Thabisa currently lives with her family in the United States. “What makes my music worthwhile, is the opportunities it opens for me to work with children and inspire them to dream big” she explained. THABISA volunteers with children using music, cultural exchange, and story-telling.

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