Aretha Franklin’s AMAZING GRACE – the REACH Opening Festival


6 PM “The Gospel According to Aretha Franklin” – REACH Skylight Pavilion

Performance by award-winning gospel artist RICHARD SMALLWOOD with Vision, and panel discussion with REV. DR. WILLIAM J. BARBER II, filmmaker ALAN ELLIOTT  (subject to change)

8 PM REACH plaza lawn screening of AMAZING GRACE

Recorded live at Rev James Cleveland’s church in Watts, California in front of a lively audience/congregation, Amazing Grace would become the highest selling album of Franklin’s career and the most popular Gospel album of all time.

However, the film was never released publicly.

Sydney Pollack was a feature-film director. When recording, sound is usually post-synched on the back-lot. After the remarkable two days of recording, the editors threw up their hands. There were no clappers, no marks to guide the sound into synch with the picture. Pollack hired lip readers and specialist editors but received no luck.

The film languished for almost 40 years before former Atlantic staff producer/Wexler protégé Alan Elliott came to Wexler and ultimately to Pollack. Together, Elliott, Wexler, and Pollack approached Warner Brothers about using new digital technology to match sound to picture and make a film out of the raw footage.

Forty-seven years later, this film is a testimony to the greatness of Aretha Franklin and a time machine window into a moment in American musical and social history.

About the REACH: the REACH is a living theater where diverse art forms collide to break down the boundaries between audience and art. It is an immersive learning center, a public incubator, and a set of dynamic, collaborative spaces where art happens so close audiences can reach out and touch it.

Envisioned as a complement to, and extension of, the Kennedy Center’s mission, the REACH is an open stage for differing ideas and divergent cultures, delivering on a vision for what a 21st century arts center should be—inclusive, accessible, and interactive.

Event Partner

Special Thanks:

Ambassador James Joseph and Mary Braxton Joseph
Sylvie Erb and David Fenton
Andy Shallal
  • Free timed-entry passes—and a full day-by-day schedule—are available from the Kennedy Center . Free timed-entry passes will be required for every day of the REACH festival from September 7-22. Review the schedule.
  •  All ticketing is managed by the Kennedy Center.



Sep 09 2019


7:30 pm


No Admission Fee - Reservations recommended

More Info



The Kennedy Center
2700 F Street, NW Washington, DC 20566


2020 One Women One Vote Festival

Other Organizers

John F. Kennedy Center
John F. Kennedy Center
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