“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.

“Spring Into Music” series continues Tues., Apr. 19, with “Monterey Pop,” introduced & discussion moderated by Brendan Toller

Best Video Film & Cultural Center continues our April “Spring Into Music” film series with the classic documentary “Monterey Pop” on Tues., Apr. 19. The event will begin at 7 PM with an introduction by New Haven-based rock musician (Dust Hat) and documentarian (“Danny Says”) Brendan Toller, who will also lead a post-film discussion. Admission is $7.

This is an indoor show so attendance is 30 max. Proof of vaccination is required to enter and masks are required. (This will be updated if circumstances allow a loosening of these restrictions.)

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.

“Monterey Pop” is the 1968 documentary film directed by D.A. Pennebaker that commemorates the Monterey International Pop Festival of June, 1967. The Monterey Pop festival is well-known as the first of the major rock music festivals. It was the site of breakout performances by numerous acts, including the Jimi Hendrix Experience’s fiery US debut and stunning sets by Ravi Shankar, The Who, Otis Redding, Janis Joplin with Big Brother & The Holding Company, and many more. Monterey set the idealistic and innocent tone for the so-called Summer of Love. Arguably, it was all downhill from there for the hippie counterculture.

Brendan Toller is a New York City and New Haven, CT based filmmaker, musician & artist. Brendan’s film work has been featured in The New York Times, Rolling Stone, The Village Voice, Wire, Pitchfork, The Onion and Dazed & Confused Korea.

Toller’s first feature documentary, “I Need That Record!” (featuring Thurston Moore, Mike Watt, Ian MacKaye, and Noam Chomsky et al.) helped “…shape the “vinyl resurgence” in the 2000s, as it chronicled independent record stores and their importance in the digital age.” (Billboard)

Toller’s second feature film “Danny Says” chronicles the life and times of Danny Fields. Fields was a pivotal figure in music and culture of the late 20th century working in various roles with the Velvet Underground, the Doors, MC5, the Stooges, Patti Smith, the Ramones et al. In 2014, Danny Says was featured on the “Year in Kickstarter” next to “Reading Rainbow’s Huge Comeback” and “A Band Delivers Pizza to Space.”

“Danny Says” was acquired by Magnolia Pictures in 2016. The film was the first original selection for Art House Theater Day, an annual weekend celebration celebrating brick and mortar theaters across the US. The Danny Says theatrical and online release followed with openings in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, London and more.

Toller plays guitar and sings in the high-energy party rock ’n’ roll band Dust Hat. He also regularly takes a spin aty Cafe Nine with his DJ B the T Jr Shake ‘N’ Vibrate Dance Party.

“Spring Into Music” series continues Tues., Apr. 12, with “Jazz On a Summer’s Day,” introduced & discussion moderation by Herb Wilson

Best Video Film & Cultural Center continues our April “Spring Into Music” film series with the classic documentary “Jazz On a Summer’s Day” on Tues., Apr. 12. The event will begin at 7 PM with an introduction by New Haven-based jazz saxophonist and educator Herb Wilson, who will also lead a post-film discussion. Admission is $7.

This is an indoor show so attendance is 30 max. Proof of vaccination is required to enter and masks are required. (This will be updated if circumstances allow a loosening of these restrictions.)

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 also sponsored by Greenberg, Rhein & Margolis Insurance Company.

Filmed at the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival in Rhode Island and directed by world-renowned photographer Bert Stern, “Jazz on a Summer’s Day” features intimate performances by an all-star line-up of musical legends including Louis Armstrong, Thelonious Monk, Gerry Mulligan, Anita O’Day, Chuck Berry, Dinah Washington, and closes with a beautiful rendition of “The Lord’s Prayer” by Mahalia Jackson at midnight to usher in Sunday morning. The film has been beautifully and extensively restored in 4K from the best surviving vault elements by IndieCollect.

Herb Wilson is a classical saxophone graduate of Hiram College and continued graduate studies in Music Education at Teacher’s College/Columbia University. He was a Guest Lecturer at the Crane School of Music and has taught Jazz Studies at the University of Bridgeport.

Herb performs in concert halls, nightclubs, country clubs, stadiums, theaters, hotels, churches, correctional facilities, synagogues, and private homes. His performances include classical recitals, small group and big band jazz ensembles, top 40, 1950’s, jazz, rhythm and blues styles. He has performed with Eddie and Bobby Buster, Jessie Austin, Bill Baker’s Five Satins, Richard McCrae and many others. He has also shared the stage with Jimmy McGriff, Groove Holmes, and Joe Diorio. Herb appeared in the award winning Jazz Documentary “Unsung Heroes.” The Herb Wilson Quartet was showcased on the Jazz Program “Bourbon Street” and performed the soundtrack for a video production of the Ted Schine play “Herbert III.” In addition to being a Panelist for the Connecticut Commission On The Arts, Herb is an Adjudicator for the Connecticut Music Educators Association. Herb has served on the board of Neighborhood Music School and is presently VP of Jazz Haven.