Artbound

S10 E4 | FULL EPISODE

How Sweet The Sound: Gospel In Los Angeles

Gospel music would not be what it is today if not for the impact left by Los Angeles in the late 60’s and early 70’s, a time defined by political movements across the country. Artists like James Cleveland and Aretha Franklin captured live recordings of the church experience of South Central and the voices and sentiment of the people coming together to give birth to a new gospel sound.

AIRED: June 07, 2019 | 0:52:51
ABOUT THE PROGRAM
TRANSCRIPT

[INDISTINCT RADIO CHATTER]

NEWSCASTER: THIS IS WHERE IT

BEGAN. THIS IS WHERE THE FUSE

WAS LIGHTED, THE DUSTY CORNER

IN AN OLD NEIGHBORHOOD OF

MODEST HOMES AND NEW LOW-PRICED

APARTMENTS.

MAN: AFTER 6 DAYS OF RIOTING

IN SOUTH LOS ANGELES IN AUGUST

OF 1965, YOU'VE GOT 34 PEOPLE

WHO LOSE THEIR LIFE, 1,032

PEOPLE ARE WOUNDED AND INJURED,

AND ALMOST $30 MILLION

IN MID-1960s OF CAPITAL AND

BUILDING DESTRUCTION.

NEWSCASTER: UP THE STREET A

BLOCK OR SO IN THAT DIRECTION,

A CHURCH WHERE NEGRO LEADERS

PLEADED FOR PEACE AND WERE

REJECTED.

MAN: NO PASTOR WANTED TO SEE

HIS CONGREGATION KILLED. THEY

RECOGNIZED THE FRUSTRATION OF

THEIR CONGREGANTS, THEY'VE

EXPERIENCED THE FRUSTRATION OF

HAVING LOS ANGELES POLICE

DEPARTMENT PULL THEM OVER, THEY

RECOGNIZED THAT THE CITY FATHERS

TREAT WATTS AS A STEPCHILD AT

BEST. BUT VIOLENCE IS VIOLENCE.

BROOKINS: AND I SUBMIT TO

YOU THAT WE SHALL NOT SEE A

HARLEM OR A ROCHESTER OR A NEW

YORK. WE CAN SOLVE IT, IT IS

YET TIME.

SECOND MAN: IF A SOCIETY HAS YOU

SO OPPRESSED AND YOUR

COMMUNICATION, YOUR REACTION IS

SO LIMITED, ALL THIS BUILDS UP

INSIDE OF YOU. THE TIME FOR

RELEASE IS WHEN IT'S AT CHURCH.

♪ AND YOU WILL KNOW

SOMETIMES... ♪

THIRD MAN: IF VIOLENCE IS THE

VOICE OF THE VOICELESS, THEN

GOSPEL BECOMES THE VOICE OF

HOPE.

CHOIR: ♪ ALL GLORY

MAN: I'LL START IT UP

CHOIR: I'LL START IT UP

MAN: LONG TIME

CHOIR: LONG TIME

MAN: THERE IS ♪

[ALL SINGING INDISTINCTLY]

[APPLAUSE]

ANNOUNCER: THIS PROGRAM WAS MADE

POSSIBLE IN PART BY A GRANT FROM

ANNE RAY FOUNDATION, A MARGARET

A. CARGILL PHILANTHROPY, THE LOS

ANGELES COUNTY BOARD OF

SUPERVISORS THROUGH THE LOS

ANGELES COUNTY ARTS COMMISSION,

THE LOS ANGELES DEPARTMENT OF

CULTURAL AFFAIRS, THE CALIFORNIA

HUMANITIES, AND THE CALIFORNIA

ARTS COUNCIL.

[APPLAUSE]

[PIANO PLAYS]

WOMAN: ♪ BOY

FREE TO WE HAVE

IN JESUS

CHOIR: IN JESUS ♪

RHONE: GOSPEL MUSIC WAS A WAY

OF EXPRESSING OUR STRUGGLE, OUR

PAIN, BUT AT THE SAME TIME, OUR

HOPE AND EXPECTATION FOR BETTER

DAYS, BECAUSE, YOU KNOW,

SOMETIMES THROUGH TEARS THERE

IS YET JOY.

CHOIR: ♪ WITH A

WOMAN: WITH A... ♪

WALKER: SO THE GOSPEL MUSIC

COMING OUT OF LOS ANGELES IN

THE 1960s AND SEVENTIES WAS

VERY MUCH REFLECTIVE NOT ONLY

OF ITS TIME, BUT ITS SPACE.

IT'S L.A., IT'S THE WEST.

CHOIR: ♪ EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING

WOMAN: EVERYTHING

TOMORROW... ♪

WALKER: IN 1973, TOM

BRADLEY WAS ELECTED THE FIRST

AFRICAN-AMERICAN MAYOR OF LOS

ANGELES. A YEAR BEFORE THAT,

ARETHA FRANKLIN RECORDED THE

HIGHEST-SELLING ALBUM IN THE

HISTORY OF GOSPEL MUSIC,

"AMAZING GRACE." BOTH OF THOSE

MILESTONES WERE TIED TO A

REVOLUTION IN GOSPEL MUSIC.

WEST: BUT WHAT MAKES GOSPEL

MUSIC AND ITS EXPRESSION IN THE

CITY OF LOS ANGELES CONNECTING

TO THE BLACK COMMUNITY IN THE

CITY OF LOS ANGELES IS THE HOPE

THAT REPRESENTS THE TERMINUS OF

THE SECOND GREAT MIGRATION, THE

COMPLEXITY, THE NUANCE, THE

DISAPPOINTMENT, THE JOY, THE

SPIRIT, THE SOUNDSCAPE, THE

LAYERS OF IT. ITS BOMBASITY,

ITS QUIETNESS, ITS RHYTHMS, ITS

TONES SPEAK TO REFLECT AND

AMPLIFY WHAT THE BLACK

COMMUNITY OF THE SIXTIES AND

SEVENTIES FEELS BOTH ABOUT

ITSELF, BUT ALSO WHAT IT SAYS TO

THE LARGE LOS ANGELES COMMUNITY

ABOUT WHO WE ARE.

WOMAN: ♪ OOH

[APPLAUSE]

JENKINS: MANY OF THE BLACKS

AND OTHER MINORITIES CAME TO LOS

ANGELES FOR JOBS, TO BE

PULLMAN PORTERS OR WORK IN

WHITE HOMES OR DO VARIOUS JOBS

WHERE THEY WERE GETTING PAID

MORE, AND IT WAS A BETTER

OPPORTUNITY HERE IN CALIFORNIA.

WALKER: FOR MANY OF THEM IT

WAS AN OPPORTUNITY TO REDO

THEMSELVES. IT WAS THE PROMISED

LAND IN TERMS OF IT WAS

BEAUTIFUL. IT SEEMED LIKE A NEW

PLACE BECAUSE IT WAS STILL

BUILDING ITSELF UP.

[CHOIR SINGING INDISTINCTLY]

DJEDJE: AND I THINK THE OTHER

THING ABOUT LOS ANGELES IS THAT

IT WAS NOT AS MUCH WRAPPED UP

IN TRADITION AND EVERYTHING WAS

NEW.

WALKER: AND ALL OF A SUDDEN

THEY BEGIN TO HAVE A CRITICAL

MASS OF THESE AFRICAN AMERICANS,

AND BECAUSE OF RESTRICTED

COVENANTS, WHICH DENIED THE

RIGHTS FOR AFRICAN AMERICANS TO

PURCHASE HOMES IN ABOUT 90% OF

LOS ANGELES, THEY WERE ALL

SITUATED IN THIS AREA, YOU KNOW,

THAT WE END UP CALLING SOUTH

CENTRAL, THIS AREA STRAIGHT

DOWN CENTRAL AVENUE, AVALON,

MAIN, BROADWAY, WHERE THEY HAD

ENOUGH PEOPLE TO HAVE A

RESTAURANT. THEY HAD ENOUGH

PEOPLE TO HAVE CLEANERS. THEY

HAD ENOUGH PEOPLE TO HAVE AND

SUPPORT SMALL BUSINESS. THEY

HAD ENOUGH PEOPLE TO SUPPORT

CHURCHES. AND THEY DIDN'T JUST

MEAN ONE OR TWO OR THREE, BUT

HUNDREDS OF CHURCHES, BIG AND

SMALL, BECAUSE SO MANY PEOPLE

HAD COME.

AND THESE CHURCHES,

WITHIN ABOUT 3 MILES OF

EACH OTHER AND WITHIN BLOCKS OF

ALL THESE OTHER CHURCHES, BECOME

GENERATORS OF THE SOUND. THEY

WOULD DO TWO, THREE, FOUR

SERVICES A DAY BECAUSE

EVERYBODY WANTED TO HEAR THIS

NEW HIP STYLE OF MUSIC.

MAN: ♪ IT WAS IN MY CHILDHOOD

'TWAS MANY YEARS AGO... ♪

DJEDJE: I ALWAYS LOOK AT GOSPEL

DURING THE FORTIES AS SORT OF A

VERY A CRITICAL PERIOD. AS MORE

PEOPLE BECAME INTERESTED IN IT,

MORE CHURCHES BECAME

ESTABLISHED. AND CHURCHES AND

LEADERS HAD TO FIND A WAY TO

SATISFY THE NEEDS OF ALL OF

THESE PEOPLE.

MAN: ♪ IN THAT LITTLE WOODEN

CHURCH ON THE HILL ♪

JENKINS: VICTORY BAPTIST WAS

FOUNDED 75 YEARS AGO, AND THE

FOUNDING PASTOR WAS DR. ARTHUR

ATLAS PETERS FROM SLIDALE,

LOUISIANA. REVEREND PETERS KNEW

A LOT OF THE PEOPLE FROM HIS

HOMETOWN. AS PEOPLE WERE COMING

HERE TO CALIFORNIA, THEY NEEDED

A PLACE TO FEEL AT HOME AND

MAKE A CONNECTION.

THEY WOULD COME INTO A CHURCH,

AND IF THE MUSIC SOUND REALLY

GOOD, THEN, YOU KNOW, THEY WOULD

COME BACK BECAUSE MUSIC HAD A

TREMENDOUS INFLUENCE AND APPEAL.

AND PASTOR PETERS UNDERSTOOD

THAT AND CAPITALIZED ON THAT.

MAN: ♪ AND THEY STARTED...

DJEDJE: YOU BEGIN TO SEE THE

TYPE OF COMMUNITY CHANGE

DRASTICALLY. THESE WERE PEOPLE

WHO HAD COME FROM RURAL

COMMUNITIES, AND THEY LIKED THE

SPIRITUALS, THE OLD TIME

SPIRITUALS, BUT BY THE SAME

TOKEN, THEY'VE COME TO LOS

ANGELES, THEY'VE COME TO THE

CITY. AND SO THEY NEEDED TO

HAVE A DIFFERENT KIND OF MUSIC

TO DEMONSTRATE THAT THEY WERE

LIVING IN THE CITY.

THIS IS ALSO THE TIME

WHEN GOSPEL IS BECOMING MORE

AND MORE PROMINENT WITHIN THE

BLACK COMMUNITY. AND SO

WHENEVER YOU HAD ANY KIND OF

CIVIL RIGHTS EVENT OR ACTIVITY

OR ANY KIND OF CAMPAIGN, YOU'RE

JUST GONNA HAVE GOSPEL THERE

BECAUSE IT WAS THE SAME MESSAGE.

THE TWO WERE LINKED TOGETHER.

MAN: ♪ HALLELU...

WOMAN: HALLELU...

MAN: HALLELU...

WOMAN: HALLELU...

BOTH: HALLELU

WOMAN: AIN'T NO HOME

WELL, IT AIN'T NO HOME

TO KEEP YOU MINE... ♪

KING: I COME HERE TO URGE EVERY

PERSON UNDER THE SOUND OF MY

VOICE TO GO TO THE POLLS ON THE

THIRD OF NOVEMBER AND VOTE YOUR

CONVICTION.

DJEDJE: SO HERE IN LOS ANGELES,

IT SORT OF WAS LINKED TOGETHER

THROUGH SOMEONE LIKE ARTHUR

ATLAS PETERS.

WALKER: SO PETERS BECOMES THE

LEADER OF MARTIN LUTHER KING'S

SCLC ON THE WEST COAST AND

BEGINS TO POSITION VICTORY

BAPTIST CHURCH AS A POLITICAL

FORCE.

JENKINS: REVEREND PETERS ALSO

HAD A UNIQUE RELATIONSHIP WITH

THE SIGNIFICANT POLITICAL

INDIVIDUALS IN LOS ANGELES.

DJEDJE: THE FACT THAT HE

WAS SORT OF THIS SPOKESPERSON

NOT ONLY FOR COMMUNITY ISSUES,

BUT ALSO FOR GOSPEL AND THE

FACT THAT HIS CHURCH BY THE

FIFTIES AND SIXTIES HAD BECOME A

MAJOR CENTER FOR GOSPEL, AGAIN

IT WAS ALL SORT OF LINKED

TOGETHER.

TV ANNOUNCER: AS JAZZ BANDS AND

BLUES SINGERS DEVELOP THE

WORLDLY SIDE OF MUSIC, IN THE

NEGRO CHURCH, A SPIRITUAL

ASPECT OF THIS NEW FORM WAS

ALSO DEVELOPING, JUST AS

DYNAMIC AND FORCEFUL IN

STIMULATING OUR MUSICAL

TRADITION.

CHOIR: ♪ GOT A HOLD ON ME

WOMAN: YES, I WENT

CHOIR: TO THE CHURCH

WOMAN: I KNOW, OH

AND GOT TO HAVE SOMETHING

GOT A HOLD ON ME ♪

MAY THOMAS: ♪ WHAT A FRIEND

WE HAVE IN JESUS

ALL OUR SINS

AND GRIEFS TO BEAR

WHAT A PRIVILEGE IT IS

TO CARRY

OH, EVERY, EVERYTHING

TO GOD IN PRAYER ♪

FIRST OF ALL, THIS

IS MY FATHER, BROTHER JOE MAY.

THAT'S THE FIRST KING OF

GOSPEL. HE HAD--HIS HIT WAS

"SEARCH ME, LORD." AND WHEN

THAT BECAME A HIT, HE WAS ABLE

TO GIVE UP HIS 9-TO-5 AND GO ON

THE ROAD, SO TO SPEAK.

MAY: ♪ OH, SEARCH ME, LORD

PLEASE SEARCH ME, LORD ♪

MAY THOMAS: I WAS ABOUT 4 YEARS

OLD WHEN I WAS SINGING GOSPEL

MUSIC. HE WOULD SEND FOR ME ON

WEEKENDS SO THAT I COULD SING

WITH HIM. YOU KNOW, WE WERE ON

THE ROAD. AND SO I GOT TO

MEET ALL OF THE GOSPEL GREATS

AS I GREW UP--SAM COOKE

AND THE SOUL STIRRERS. LOU

RAWLS WAS WITH THE PILGRIM

TRAVELERS. I MET ARETHA WITH

HER FATHER REVEREND C.L.

FRANKLIN.

FRANKLIN: ♪ IF ONLY I

MAY THOMAS: MAVIS STAPLES WITH

THE STAPLE SINGERS.

STAPLE: ♪ OH, I CAN'T

SIT DOWN

MAN: SIT DOWN, SIT DOWN

STAPLE: I CAN'T SIT DOWN

I JUST GOT TO HEAVEN

AND I CAN'T SIT DOWN

MAN: YEAH ♪

MAY THOMAS: AND REVEREND JAMES

CLEVELAND WITH ALBERTINA WALKER

AND HER CARAVANS.

THE CARAVANS: ♪ TAKE ME

MAY THOMAS: AND HE WAS SOLOIST

AS WELL AS ONE OF THE PIANISTS.

AND HE WROTE SONGS FOR THEM, AND

SO HE WAS ALSO RECORDING

HIMSELF.

MAN: JAMES CLEVELAND!

[APPLAUSE]

CLEVELAND: THANK YOU. THANK YOU,

AND WELCOME TO "TV GOSPEL TIME."

WALKER: IN THE 1960s, L.A. IS

EXPERIENCING ALL KINDS OF NEW

PHENOMENA, AND ONE OF THEM COMES

ON BEHALF OF ONE OF ITS MOST

FAMOUS INCOMING MIGRANTS, AND

THAT IS THIS GUY NAMED JAMES

CLEVELAND. JAMES CLEVELAND IS

CALLED THE PRINCE OF GOSPEL. HE

HAD STUDIED UNDER NONE OTHER

THAN THOMAS DORSEY IN CHICAGO.

HE HAD PLAYED WITH MANY OF THE

EARLY GOSPEL GREATS. AND HE HAD

BEEN ALREADY WRITING AND

ARRANGING. HE HAD PLAYED FOR

ARETHA FRANKLIN'S DAD. HE WAS

THE MINISTER OF MUSIC AT

THEIR CHURCH IN DETROIT,

MICHIGAN. AND HE HAD ALREADY A

RECOGNIZED PERSONA.

CLEVELAND: AND I REMEMBER SO

WELL THAT I SAID I WASN'T

GONNA TELL NOBODY, BUT I

COULDN'T KEEP IT TO MYSELF.

♪ SAID I WASN'T GONNA

TELL NOBODY BUT I... ♪

DJEDJE: AS LOS ANGELES GAINED

MORE RECOGNITION AS THE CENTER

FOR GOSPEL MUSIC, PERHAPS THOSE

PEOPLE WHO WERE LIVING IN

CHICAGO FELT AS IF THEY NEEDED

TO GO WHERE THE ACTION IS.

CHOIR: ♪ COULDN'T KEEP IT

TO MYSELF

CLEVELAND: BUT THE LORD

CHOIR: HAS GOT AHOLD OF ME ♪

MAY THOMAS: IN THE EARLY 1960s,

I INVITED REVEREND CLEVELAND TO

COME TO LOS ANGELES.

WALKER: THIS WAS UNCHARTED

TERRITORY, AND I GUARANTEE YOU

HE LOOKED AT IT AND SAID, "ALL

THESE VOICES, ALL THESE

PEOPLE, ALL THESE CHURCHES?

AND NOBODY'S RECORDING THEM AND

PUTTING THEM ON A NATIONAL

STAGE? OH, I'M DOING THIS."

[CHOIR SINGING]

MAY THOMAS: AND JAMES CLEVELAND

WAS IN DETROIT TALKING

ABOUT--YOU KNOW, HE WAS JUST

KIND OF LIKE STAGNANT. I SAID,

"OH, THIS IS THE PLACE FOR YOU

TO COME." I SAID, "I GOT A JOB

FOR YOU. COME ON OUT HERE."

DJEDJE: HE WANTED TO DO

SOMETHING NEW. MOST PEOPLE

ASSOCIATE HIM WITH CHICAGO,

CHICAGO, CHICAGO, BUT IT WAS

ONLY LOS ANGELES THAT ALLOWED

HIM TO BECOME GREAT.

RHONE: WHAT HE BROUGHT TO LOS

ANGELES WAS A BIGGER THAN LIFE

PERSONA THAT PEOPLE RALLIED TO.

WALKER: L.A. WAS AN ATTRACTION.

L.A. IS HOLLYWOOD. EVERYBODY

WANTS TO COME HERE AND LEAVE THE

MIDWEST AND TRY TO MAKE THEIR

STAR HAPPEN. SO IF I REALLY

WANT TO MAKE IT, AND ESPECIALLY

IF I WANT THE MUSIC TO GO

BEYOND MY 4 WALLS AND THEN

MAYBE EVEN CROSS INTO SOMETHING

ELSE, L.A. IS THE PLACE I WANT

TO BE.

WEBBER: SO NOW WE'RE GOING TO

DO A SONG CALLED, "I'M GOING

THROUGH," WHICH IS A SONG THAT

REVEREND W.T. SNEED USED TO DO

EVERY SUNDAY NIGHT JUST BEFORE

HE DID HIS SERMON.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

WALKER: ONE OF THE BEST WAYS

FOR PEOPLE TO BEGIN TO SHARE

THIS NEW MUSIC WAS THROUGH

THESE RADIO BROADCASTS. SO AS

AFRICAN AMERICANS BEGIN TO MOVE

INTO LOS ANGELES, YOU CAN

IMAGINE RADIO STATIONS BEGIN TO

CHANGE THEIR FORMAT TO CATER TO

THIS NEW POPULATION. THEY

DEDICATE SUNDAYS TO GOSPEL

MUSIC.

WEBBER: THEY CALLED IT A CHURCH

RADIO BROADCAST. AND SO EACH

CHURCH THAT WAS ON WOULD HAVE

THEIR TIMESLOT. SO OUR TIME WAS

FROM 8:30 PM TO 9:30 PM. I FELT

LIKE I HAD 2,000 MUSIC STUDENTS

EACH WEEK. 10 YEARS, 20 YEARS,

30 YEARS LATER, I HAVE MUSICIANS

COMING TO ME THAT I NEVER SAW

WHO TOLD ME HOW INFLUENTIAL I

WAS BECAUSE THEY WERE ABLE TO

HEAR THE BROADCAST EVERY SUNDAY

NIGHT AND TRY TO FIGURE OUT

WHAT IT WAS THAT I WAS DOING.

DURING THAT TIME, THERE

WAS ONLY A FEW CHANNELS ON TV

THAT WERE EVEN AVAILABLE. THERE

WAS NO CABLE. SO THE MEDIA WAS

RADIO. THEY WOULD GATHER AROUND

THE RADIO AND LISTEN.

SO PEOPLE BEGAN TO HEAR THOSE

SONGS AND HOW THE MUSICIANS

PLAYED THEM.

[PLAYING ORGAN]

A LOT OF THE MUSIC CHANGED IN

L.A. ACCORDING TO WHAT THEY WERE

HEARING ON THE RADIO. SO WHEN

JAMES CAME HERE, HE STARTED TO

FORM THIS FELLOWSHIP WITH THE

MUSICIANS. AFTER THEY WOULD HAVE

THEIR CHURCH SERVICE AND THEIR

BROADCASTS, THEY WOULD GO OUT

LATE NIGHT AND EAT AND TALK

ABOUT WHAT HAD HAPPENED IN

GOSPEL MUSIC AND WHO HAD DONE

WHAT. SO THEY FORMED THIS BOND

WHERE EVERYONE WAS KIND OF

ACCEPTING HIM AS THE LEADER OF

THIS NEW MOVEMENT.

DJEDJE: THE FACT THAT PEOPLE

BEGAN TO INVEST IN RADIO

PROGRAMS AND TV PROGRAMS GAVE

THEM MUCH MORE EXPOSURE. ALL OF

THAT WENT A LONG WAY IN MAKING

GOSPEL MUCH MORE RESPECTED.

WALKER: A NUMBER OF THESE RADIO

STATIONS, BECAUSE OF THEIR

REACH, IT MEANS THAT PEOPLE

OUTSIDE OF SOUTH CENTRAL GET TO

LISTEN TO A BLACK SOUTH CENTRAL

EXPERIENCE, WHICH MAY BE A

RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE YOU WANT

TO HEAR. BUT IT ALSO MAY BE

THAT IT INTONES YOU OR MAKES

YOU EMPATHETIC TO A SOCIAL AND

POLITICAL REALITY THAT THE

PASTOR MAY BE TALKING ABOUT.

PASTOR: IT'S THAT WE'LL GO UP IF

YOU WANT TO BOAST ABOUT YOU. AND

IF YOU'RE GOING DOWN, WE'LL HELP

PUSH YOU DOWN.

[CONGREGATION AGREES]

PASTOR: WHAT I WANT TO TELL YOU

WHEREVER YOU MAY BE, JUST KEEP

A-GOING. IF YOU STRIKE A FOOL...

FISHER: THE CHURCH WAS, BACK

THEN, WAS THE ONLY PLACE WHERE

BLACKS HAD TO CONGREGATE

TOGETHER. YOU'VE GOT TO SEE

YOU'RE DEALING WITH OPPRESSION.

THAT'S GETTING RID OF ALL THAT

BUILD UP IN US,

AND MUSIC WAS...

A PART OF IT.

[CHOIR VOCALIZING]

FISHER: THE CONGREGATION I HAD

STARTED IN A HOUSE ON THE

CORNER RIGHT DOWN THERE. I

LAUGH ABOUT IT NOW. IN THAT

ONE-BEDROOM HOUSE YOU COULD

COUNT THE STARS.

[RHYTHMIC CLAPPING]

BACK THEN, COULDN'T BORROW NO

MONEY. NO BANK WOULD LOAN ANY

MONEY TO US. THEY SAY, "WELL,

YOU'RE NOT GOING--YOU CAN'T DO

NOTHING OUT THERE IN COMPTON.

THERE'S NOBODY OUT THERE." I

SAID, "I'M GONNA LEAVE IT UP TO

GOD. GOD WANT ME TO BUILD HIM A

BUILDING, A CHURCH."

WEST: PASTORS AND PARTICULARLY

PASTORS IN THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN

COMMUNITY ARE GONNA BE

INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT IN THE

EARLY 1960s FOR ELECTORAL

OFFICE.

FISHER: WHEN THEY START LETTING

US VOTE, I BECAME ACTIVE. I MET

TOM BRADLEY WHEN HE WAS A

POLICEMAN, AND I SUPPORTED HIM.

WEST: TOM BRADLEY REPRESENTS

THE PRE-WORLD WAR II NARRATIVE

OF THOSE WHO ARE GONNA ARRIVE

INTO THE CITY.

WALKER: HE RESEMBLES WHAT SO

MANY OF THESE PEOPLE WERE

ASPIRING TO BE. HE WAS THEIR

STORY. HE COMES FROM CALVERT,

TEXAS, STARTS OFF HIS LIFE AS A

SHARECROPPER, THEN COMES TO L.A.

WEST: HE'S ABLE TO LEVERAGE

HIS ATHLETIC ABILITY TO

GENERATE A SCHOLARSHIP TO THE

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, LOS

ANGELES. HE'S ONE OF 55 BLACKS

ON THE CAMPUS AT THAT TIME IN

THE EARLY 1930s.

WALKER: AND THEN FOR 20 YEARS

ALMOST, HE'S A POLICE OFFICER IN

THE LAPD WHEN THERE WEREN'T

MANY BLACK PEOPLE IN THE LAPD.

WEST: HE THEN IS GOING TO

PURSUE THE POSSIBILITY OF

ELECTED OFFICE. HE WON'T BE THE

FIRST. GIL LINDSAY IS GONNA BE

APPOINTED TO BE THE FIRST

AFRICAN AMERICAN IN L.A. CITY

COUNCIL. BUT HE WILL JOIN

LINDSAY ON THE CITY COUNCIL

ALONG WITH BILLY MILLS. AND BY

1963, THE 3 OF THEM WILL

SERVE IN THE CITY COUNCIL,

3 OF 15.

WALKER: SO THESE PASTORS WERE

UNDERSTANDING THAT THEY HAD

INFINITELY MORE TO DO AND GIVE

TO THEIR CONGREGATIONS THAN

JUST THE SCRIPTURES ON SUNDAY.

AND THEY BEGIN TO BE A FORCE,

NOT A LITTLE FORCE, BUT THEY

ARE POWER BROKERS IN THE CITY.

[CHOIR SINGING]

FISHER: I WOULD PUT ON RALLIES

IN THE COMMUNITY, AND THE

COMMUNITY WOULD COME. I DIDN'T

GIVE UP, PUSHED ON.

[CHOIR SINGING]

FELICIA: ALL THESE PEOPLE THAT

TALK ABOUT WATTS, THEY SAY HOW

DIRTY IT IS, HOW FILTHY IT IS,

HOW MUCH THEY WANT TO LEAVE.

ALL MY FRIENDS DON'T WANT TO

LIVE HERE, HATE TO SAY THAT

THEY LIVE IN WATTS. I THINK

THAT'S SILLY. THEY DO LIVE IN

WATTS. SURE, EVERYBODY WANTS TO

GET OUT. I DON'T. I THINK I

WANT TO STAY HERE. BUT I DON'T

WANT TO LIVE LIKE I'M LIVING

RIGHT NOW.

WEST: I THINK FOR MOST

AMERICANS, THERE'S NO

UNDERSTANDING OF JIM CROW, AND

THERE'S A SILENCE WITHIN THAT

PARTICULAR GENERATION OF

AFRICAN AMERICANS TO--YOU COME

TO LOS ANGELES AND YOU WANT TO

FORGET THE BURNING CROSSES, YOU

WANT TO LEAVE BEHIND THE MEMORY

OF THE UNCLE WHO WAS HUNG FROM

A TREE, YOU WANT TO LEAVE

BEHIND THE HUMILIATION OF

WAITING AT THE STORE AND NEVER

BEING SERVED. VIOLENCE WAS

NORMAL. HUMILIATION WAS NORMAL.

MAN: ♪ YOU LIFT UP HIGH

OH, YEAH... ♪

WALKER: YOU'VE GOT AFRICAN

AMERICANS ELECTING PEOPLE TO

THE CITY COUNCIL. YOU'VE GOT

THEM WITH A COUNTY SUPERVISOR

WHO HAS THEIR EAR. YOU'VE GOT

THEM WITH PEOPLE IN THE

ASSEMBLY.

YOU'VE GOT THESE RALLIES THAT

ARE GOING ON WHERE THEY'RE

SAYING, IN ESSENCE, I AM

SOMEBODY, RIGHT. YOU'VE GOT THE

PASSAGE OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS

ACT. I HAVE RIGHTS THAT HAVE

BEEN CONFIRMED BY THE CONGRESS

AND BY THE SUPREME COURT. I

HAVE RIGHTS.

MAN: ♪ AND TO ALL...

WALKER: POLITICAL VIOLENCE

DOESN'T OCCUR WHEN PEOPLE ARE

JUST BEING OPPRESSED. ACTUALLY

PEOPLE CAN LIVE FOR CENTURIES

BEING OPPRESSED. IT HAPPENS ALL

OVER THE WORLD. WHEN YOU HAVE

RISING EXPECTATIONS AND RISING

EXPECTATIONS ARE MET WITH

A SWIFT AND SOUND DEFEAT,

THAT'S WHEN POLITICAL VIOLENCE

HAPPENS.

WEST: IF YOU'RE NOT GOING TO

HEAR ME BY USING THE NORMAL

MECHANISMS OF ELECTED

OFFICIALS, OF CITY LISTENING,

OF DELIVERABLE SERVICE, THEN WE

NEED TO FIND OTHER MECHANISMS

BY WHICH THAT YOU'RE GOING TO

HEAR US.

JENKINS: IN LOS ANGELES,

CALIFORNIA, IT JUST SEEMED TO

BE MORE OPPORTUNITY HERE TO,

YOU KNOW, REACH YOUR DREAMS, A

BETTER LIFE. TOOK THEM A LITTLE

TIME TO FIND OUT THAT IT WAS

JUST A HORSE OF A DIFFERENT

COLOR.

WOMAN: ♪ MISTER...

[TIRES SCREECHING]

[EXPLOSION]

[POLICE CHATTER]

[SIRENS]

MAN: HEY! DON'T MOVE!

WOMAN: ♪ OH, YEAH, I FEEL...

POLICE OFFICER: THIS AREA IS

BEING CLOSED. PLEASE GO IN YOUR

HOMES.

WOMAN: ♪ NOWHERE IS NOW

WAKE UP, JESUS ♪

RHONE: GOSPEL MUSIC AS A GENRE

WAS BIRTHED BY THE CHALLENGING

EXPERIENCE OF BLACK FOLK IN

AMERICA.

DOUROUX: MOST OF MUSIC IN

CHURCH STEMS FROM THE FACT THAT

WE SUNG OUR WAY THROUGH

HISTORY, FROM ONE CHAOTIC TIME

AND GETTING THROUGH IT TO

ANOTHER CHAOTIC TIME AND

GETTING THROUGH THAT, SO THE

MUSIC HAS ALWAYS AMPLIFIED

WHERE WE ARE.

[NO AUDIO]

CLEVELAND: ♪ MASTER

BUT YOUR PATH IS RAGING

OH, THE BILLOWS... ♪

RHONE: I BELIEVE GOD CHOSE

REVEREND CLEVELAND, JAMES

CLEVELAND, FOR WHAT HE DID AND

THE EFFECT THAT HE HAD ON

GOSPEL MUSIC, HELPING TO BRING

THE CITY OF LOS ANGELES

TOGETHER.

WHEN HE TOUCHED A SONG,

IT TOOK ON A NEW LIFE, JUST

BECAUSE OF WHAT HE BROUGHT TO

IT--THE PASSION THAT HE PUT

INTO IT, THE CONVICTION, THAT

HE HAD FOR DELIVERING THAT

SONG. IT GAVE IT SOMETHING JUST

NEW AND IT WAS GOLD.

CLEVELAND: THE CHRISTIAN KEPT ON

ASKING HIM--

CHOIR: ♪ WHERE IS YOUR FAITH

CLEVELAND: WHERE IS YOUR FAITH

CHOIR: IN GOD? ♪

WALKER: ONE THING THAT'S FUNNY

ABOUT JAMES CLEVELAND, MANY

PEOPLE TALK ABOUT, THAT HE

WASN'T THE GREATEST PIANO

PLAYER, YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN.

HIS VOICE IS NOT THE GREATEST

VOICE. HE'S NOT THE GREATEST OF

A LOT OF THINGS, BUT WHEN YOU

PUT THEM ALL TOGETHER, THE

WHOLE IS GREATER THAN THE

PARTS.

CLEVELAND: ♪ ALL MY BILLS

ARE WAY PAST DUE... ♪

DOUROUX: WORKING WITH JAMES

CLEVELAND, IT WAS SO UNIQUE IN

THAT HE HAD A GIFT FOR

INTERPRETATION. HIS VOICE

WASN'T MELODIOUS, BUT HE COULD

SELL A SONG. AND HE WOULD MAKE

A SONG LIVE, I DON'T CARE WHAT

IT WAS.

CLEVELAND: PRAISE GOD IN THIS

SANCTUARY.

WEBBER: GOSPEL MUSIC USED TO

JUST BE ON A PIANO. AND PEOPLE

WOULD CLAP AND THEY WOULD PAT

THEIR FEET. AS TIME WENT ON AND

JAMES DECIDED THAT HE WANTED TO

ADD INSTRUMENTATION, BASICALLY

BECAUSE JAMES WAS A RECORDING

ARTIST WITH SAVOY. IN THE

STUDIO, THEY WOULD HAVE ACCESS

TO A DRUMMER TO KEEP THE BEAT

RIGHT. THEY'D HAVE AN ORGAN IN

THERE. THEY'D HAVE A BASS

PLAYER. THEY HAD ACCESS TO

THESE OTHER INSTRUMENTS. SO

JAMES DECIDED TO BRING THAT

INTO THE CHURCH.

CLEVELAND: BASS PLAYER. JUST

PRAISE HIM FOR ONE MINUTE

THERE.

[BASS PLAYS]

[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]

THAT'S ENOUGH. AND

THAT'S A LEAD GUITAR RIGHT

THERE. ONE THAT CAN I GET YOU TO

PRAISE HIM JUST ONE MINUTE

THERE.

[GUITAR PLAYING]

[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]

OK.

WALKER: ONE OF HIS CHIEF

INNOVATIONS WAS TO MIC THE

AUDIENCE. WHEN PEOPLE RECORD,

MANY TIMES THEY WANT THIS CLEAN

SOUND, RIGHT. THEY DON'T WANT

ANYTHING ELSE OUT THERE BECAUSE

IT'LL SOUND--IT'LL MESS UP THE

SOUND. HE UNDERSTOOD THAT WHAT

HE WAS CAPTURING WAS THE CHURCH

EXPERIENCE, THE LIVED EXPERIENCE

IN THE CHURCH. SO WHEN YOU'RE

LISTENING TO THE RECORDINGS OF A

JAMES CLEVELAND SONG, YOU HEAR A

CHOIR, BUT THEN YOU ALSO HEAR

SHRIEKS IN THE BACKGROUND.

YOU HEAR A WOMAN WAILING, YOU

HEAR PEOPLE SCREAMING, YOU HEAR

ALL KINDS OF OTHER THINGS, AND

YOU HEAR HIM INTERACTING WITH

THE CROWD. YOU SEE THE

IMPROVISATION HAPPENING BECAUSE

HE UNDERSTOOD THAT THE REAL

MUSIC EXPERIENCE WAS THE CHURCH

EXPERIENCE.

CLEVELAND: SHH.

THEY CAN'T HELP IT. THE

BIBLE SAID--SHH. WHEN YOU GET

HOME, GET YOUR BIBLE AND DUST

IT OFF.

[LAUGHTER]

ANNOUNCER: IT'S NONE OTHER THAN

REVEREND JAMES CLEVELAND AND

THE SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

COMMUNITY CHOIR. GIVE THEM A BIG

HAND AS THEY COME AT THIS TIME.

COME ON.

[APPLAUSE]

[CHOIR VOCALIZING]

CLEVELAND: ♪ NOBODY

NOBODY, NOBODY

CHOIR: NOBODY TO HOLD ME

CLEVELAND: THE ROAD

CHOIR: THE ROAD WOULD BE... ♪

WALKER: FOR MOST PEOPLE, THEIR

IMAGE OF GOSPEL MUSIC IS THIS

HUGE CHOIR, RIGHT, BUT IN

REALITY, IN TERMS OF RECORDED

MUSIC AND MUSIC INDUSTRY, IT

WAS NOT THE SOUND UNTIL REALLY

THE 1960s AND EARLY SEVENTIES.

WHEN PEOPLE BOUGHT RECORDED

GOSPEL MUSIC, THEY DIDN'T BUY

BIG CHOIR-RECORDED GOSPEL MUSIC.

THEY BOUGHT QUARTETS, THEY

BOUGHT SOLOISTS.

MAY THOMAS: WE'VE ALWAYS HAD

CHOIRS IN CHURCHES AND THINGS

LIKE THAT, BUT NOT AS A SPECIAL

EVENT. YOU KNOW, CHOIRS SANG FOR

THE MORNING WORSHIPS AND THINGS

LIKE THAT, BUT THEY WERE NOT

RECORDING UNTIL REVEREND

CLEVELAND STARTED TO RECORD.

CHOIR: ♪ WELL WELL, WELL WELL

WELL WELL, WELL WELL

WELL WELL, WELL WELL

WELL WELL WELL

WELL WELL WELL

WELL, WELL, WELL

WELL, WELL, WELL ♪

WEBBER: ONCE YOU HEARD WHAT HE

WAS DOING WITH CHOIRS, YOU

NEVER FORGOT IT, YOU NEVER

WANTED TO GO BACK TO WHAT YOU

WERE DOING BEFORE.

RHONE: HE PUT VOICES TOGETHER,

50, 60, 70-PLUS VOICES. IT WOULD

JUST WORK, IT WOULD BLEND. AND

YET, THE VOICES WERE DISTINCT.

CHOIR: ♪ OHH

ONLY A LOOK ♪

WALKER: THIS NEW APPRECIATION

FOR ALL THESE VOICES AND ALL

THIS COMING THROUGH YOUR

AIRWAVES WAS BECAUSE OF JAMES

CLEVELAND.

AFTER A VERY SHORT

PERIOD OF TIME SERVING AS A

MINISTER OF MUSIC FOR OTHER

CHURCHES, JAMES CLEVELAND

ESTABLISHES HIS OWN CHURCH,

CORNERSTONE BAPTIST CHURCH ON

SLAUSON AND WESTERN, AND THE

CHURCH WAS A PLACE OF MUSICAL

INNOVATION. YOU CAN IMAGINE

THAT. THE CHURCH WAS A PLACE

OF HEALING SPIRITUALLY, OF

UPLIFT SPIRITUALLY, BUT IT WAS

KNOWN AS A PLACE WHERE

EVERYBODY COULD BE THEMSELVES,

WHERE THEY COULD BE COMFORTABLE.

NO MATTER WHAT THEIR RACE WAS,

THEY COULD COME TO

CORNERSTONE, NO MATTER WHAT

THEIR SEXUAL PREFERENCE WAS,

THEY COULD COME TO CORNERSTONE,

NO MATTER WHAT THEIR PAST

MUSICAL HISTORY WAS, THEY COULD

COME TO CORNERSTONE. AND WHEN

HE THEN CREATES THE SOUTHERN

CALIFORNIA COMMUNITY CHOIR, HE

TOOK THAT SAME ETHOS WITH HIM.

AND SO NOW EVEN THOUGH YOU GO

TO A DIFFERENT CHURCH, BUT YOU

REALLY WANT TO SING WITH JAMES

CLEVELAND, RIGHT? YOU'VE GOT THE

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA COMMUNITY

CHOIR. SO YOU COULD BE A MEMBER

OF ANY OF THESE CHURCHES AND

YOU COULD STILL BE IN THERE

WITH JAMES CLEVELAND.

DOUROUX: JAMES CLEVELAND

PROBABLY DESERVES THE

RECOGNITION FOR BEING THE

GROUNDWORK FOR REAL, REAL

TRANSITION. I REALLY THINK

THAT'S THE BIGGEST INFLUENCE FOR

WHO WE ARE TODAY.

CHOIR: ♪ AT THE TABLE

FOR MANKIND

KIND, KIND, KIND, KIND

AT THE TABLE, TABLE

TABLE, TABLE,

EVERYTHING

WOMAN: SAY EVERYTHING

CHOIR: EVERYTHING

WOMAN: EVERYTHING

CHOIR: EVERYTHING

WOMAN: THERE

CHOIR: THERE

WOMAN: IS

CHOIR: FREE ♪

[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]

[GOSPEL MUSIC PLAYING]

JENKINS: THIS IS JAMES

CLEVELAND AND THE SOUTHERN

CALIFORNIA COMMUNITY CHOIR, AND

THAT'S THE CHOIR HERE IN LOS

ANGELES. THE TITLE HIT ON THERE

IS "GIVE ME A CLEAN HEART." AND

THIS PARTICULAR SONG WAS VERY

POPULAR. IT WAS SUNG IN

CHURCHES ALL ACROSS THE

COUNTRY, AND THE SONG WAS

WRITTEN BY ONE OF THE MOST

PROLIFIC, AND I MEAN THIS, ONE

OF THE GREATEST WRITERS OF ALL

TIMES, AND THAT'S MARGARET

PLEASANT DOUROUX. HER MUSIC IS

AWESOME.

WOMAN: ♪ AND I'M NOT ASKING

FOR HIGH MEN TO KNOW

MY NAME

PLEASE, LORD

GIVE ME

A CLEAN HEART

SO THAT I

MAY FOLLOW THEE

CHOIR: GIVE ME A CLEAN HEART

WOMAN: GIVE ME

A CLEAN HEART

CHOIR: HEART ♪

WALKER: ...RANK AND FILE MEMBER

OF AN AFRICAN-AMERICAN CHURCH

PRIOR TO THE ADVENT OF THESE BIG

COMMUNITY CHOIRS, YOU WERE

ISOLATED TO THE CHURCH THAT YOU

WERE A MEMBER OF. WITH THE

CREATION OF THESE COMMUNITY

CHOIRS, YOU END UP HAVING THIS

BEAUTIFUL CROSS POLLINATION

GOING ON WHERE MEMBERS OF ONE

CHURCH WERE ALSO MEMBERS OF

THESE COMMUNITY CHOIRS. THAT HAS

A MUSICAL CONSEQUENCE THAT TURNS

OUT TO BE THIS GREAT MUSIC, BUT

IT ALSO HAS A SOCIAL AND

POLITICAL CONSEQUENCE BECAUSE

THEY'RE SHARING INFORMATION WITH

EACH OTHER.

[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]

NEWS ANCHOR: A LOS ANGELES

COUNCILMAN, THOMAS BRADLEY, WHO

IS A NEGRO, FINISHED FIRST IN

YESTERDAY'S ELECTION FOR MAYOR,

BUT HE DID NOT RECEIVE A

MAJORITY, SO HE WILL COMPETE IN

A RUNOFF WITH THE NUMBER TWO

CANDIDATE, THE MAN WHO IS NOW

THE MAYOR, SAM YORTY...

WEST: AFTER THE WATTS

INSURRECTION OF 1965, BRADLEY IS

VERY WELL AWARE THAT L.A. POLICE

IS USED IN MANY WAYS AS AN

OCCUPYING ARMY, AND HE'S TRYING

TO LEVERAGE THE POSSIBILITY OF

THE CITY COUNCIL TO TRY TO AT

LEAST CORRAL SOME OF THE MORE

EGREGIOUS COMPONENTS OF THE LOS

ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT. HE

GETS PUSHBACK, AND IT'S CLEAR TO

HIM THAT IF I STAY AS SIMPLY

ONE OF 15 IN THE CITY COUNCIL, I

WILL BE ABLE TO MAKE INCREMENTAL

SHIFTS, BUT IF I REALLY WANT TO

MAKE THE SORT OF WHOLESALE SHIFT

I THINK THAT'S IMPORTANT IN NOT

JUST SIMPLY IN THE POLICE

DEPARTMENT BUT IN ALL THE

SERVICES THAT THE CITY PROVIDES,

THE BEST POSSIBLE LOCATION TO DO

THAT IN MANY WAYS IS GOING TO BE

BECOME THE MAYOR FOR THE CITY.

YORTY: BRADLEY MADE A VERY

RACIST APPEAL IN THE NEGRO AREA

THAT THEY SHOULD VOTE FOR HIM

BECAUSE HE'S BLACK, AND THAT

APPEARS TO HAVE WORKED TO A

CERTAIN EXTENT. THEN HE ALSO GOT

THE LEFT-WING DEMOCRATS. SO HE

PUT TOGETHER SORT OF A BLOCK

HERE. AND I WOULD SAY ABOUT ALL

THE VOTES HE'S GOING TO GET, HE

WILL GET IN THE PRIMARY.

WEST: YORTY WILL RUN, IN MANY

WAYS, A DEMONIZATION CAMPAIGN.

HE'LL SAY THAT THE

SUPPORTERS OF TOM BRADLEY IN

1969 ARE THE BLACK PANTHER

PARTY, THEY'RE VIOLENT TOUGHS,

THAT IF YOU ELECT TOM BRADLEY IN

CITY OFFICE, THERE'S GONNA BE A

TAKEOVER BY THE VIOLENT ELEMENTS

OF THE COMMUNITY. AND HE'S ABLE

TO LEVERAGE THAT NARRATIVE TO BE

ABLE TO DEFEAT BRADLEY IN 1969.

BRADLEY: THE MAYOR HAS HAD A

PATTERN OF RUNNING A SMEAR

CAMPAIGN RATHER THAN DEALING

WITH THE ISSUES. HE'S DONE THIS

IN THE PAST, AND HIS STATEMENTS

LAST NIGHT AND EARLY THIS

MORNING CLEARLY INDICATE THAT

THAT'S THE ATTACK HE WILL TAKE

AGAIN.

REPORTER: AND WHAT'S THE BEST

ATTACK AGAINST A CAMPAIGN LIKE

THIS?

BRADLEY: I PROPOSE TO IGNORE

IT. I BELIEVE THAT WE OUGHT TO

RUN A HIGH-LEVEL CAMPAIGN FOR

THE PEOPLE OF THIS CITY WHERE

WE DEAL WITH THE ISSUES. WE

HAVE ENORMOUS PROBLEMS FACING

US, AND TO TALK ABOUT GUTTER

POLITICS AT A TIME LIKE THIS, I

THINK IS INAPPROPRIATE.

WEST: TO HIS CREDIT, HE'S

DEFEATED ON TUESDAY. HE IS IN A

CHURCH IN WEST HILLS ON SUNDAY

IN 1969 BECAUSE HE'S ALREADY

BEGINNING HIS 1973 CAMPAIGN.

THEY COULD FEEL HIM, THEY COULD

SEE HIM, THEY COULD INTERACT

WITH HIM. HE IS GOING TO REACH

OUT TO THE BLACK CHURCH AND MOVE

THROUGH FIRST A.M.E., SECOND

BAPTIST, PEOPLE'S INDEPENDENT

CHURCH AND ASK THEIR PASTORS TO

RALLY THEIR CONGREGANTS TO SHOW

UP. BUT IN THE BLACK COMMUNITY,

THE TWO THINGS THAT HAD TO

OCCUR WERE VOTER REGISTRATION

AND VOTER TURNOUT. AND IN MANY

WAYS, PARTICULARLY IN THE 1973

CAMPAIGN, THOSE WERE THE TWO

THINGS THAT THE BLACK CHURCH

DID AT ITS CORE--REGISTERING

ITS CONGREGANTS AND GETTING

THOSE CONGREGANTS OUT TO BE

ABLE TO VOTE. SO THEY SERVE A

CRITICAL ROLE IN THAT PROCESS.

WALKER: THIS MUSIC THAT THESE

PEOPLE ARE LISTENING TO IN

THESE CHURCHES IS REFLECTIVE OF

THE EXPERIENCES THAT THEY'RE

HAVING IN THE STREETS. THERE'S

A GREAT SONG CALLED "CLIMBING

HIGHER MOUNTAINS," AND IT GOES,

"I'M CLIMBING HIGHER MOUNTAINS

TRYING TO GET HOME. I'M ON THE

ROUGH SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN

TRYING TO GET HOME." THOSE TYPES

OF SONGS ARE THOSE TYPE OF

MOVEMENT SONGS THAT SAY

PROGRESSION, AND I THINK FOR

MANY OF THESE AFRICAN AMERICANS

MIGRATING INTO LOS ANGELES AT

THIS TIME, GETTING THIS THING

FROM THESE CHURCHES THAT ARE

PUSHING THEM IN THAT DIRECTION,

IT IS REFLECTIVE OF WHAT YOU

SEE WHEN YOU SEE TOM BRADLEY

GET ELECTED IN 1973 AS THE

FIRST AFRICAN-AMERICAN MAYOR OF

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA.

CHOIR: ♪ TRYING TO GET HOME

MAN: OH, I'M PRAYING

IN THE MORNING... ♪

WEST: AND I THINK ALL THOSE

THINGS ARE LAYERED AND NUANCED

IN THE EXPRESSION OF BLACK

GOSPEL MUSIC, BUT PARTICULARLY

IN LOS ANGELES.

CHOIR: ♪ TRYING TO GET HOME

[APPLAUSE]

MAY THOMAS: FOR THE RECORDING OF

"AMAZING GRACE" WITH ARETHA

FRANKLIN, SHE CAME TO LOS

ANGELES AND WAS BACKGROUND BY

THE SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

COMMUNITY CHOIR AND REVEREND

CLEVELAND.

AND OF COURSE, THIS

IS ARETHA WHEN SHE WAS DOING

THE "AMAZING GRACE" ALBUM AND

COMING DOWN FOR THE BEGINNING

OF THE ALBUM. SHE WOULD MARCH

IN.

CHOIR: ♪ MARY...

WALKER: WHEN THEY BEGIN TO

START TALKING ABOUT RECORDING

THIS ALBUM AND IN ESSENCE,

BRINGING HER BACK HOME,

BRINGING HER BACK TO CHURCH,

ALL THE THINGS, IT BECAME A

PERFECT STORM. ARETHA IS DOING

HER THING. SHE'S MAKING MUSIC,

BUT SHE KNOWS HER SOUL IS IN

THE CHURCH. AND NOW JAMES

CLEVELAND SAYS, "COME TO L.A.

LET'S DO IT. WE'LL HAVE THE

RIGHT MUSICIANS FOR YOU. WE'LL

HAVE EVERYTHING YOU NEED." AND

THE FACT THAT JAMES CLEVELAND

HAD BEEN MAKING THESE GREAT

RECORDS THAT SHE LOVED. AND

SHE'S THINKING, "YEAH, WE CAN DO

THIS."

MAY THOMAS: AND WE REHEARSED AT

THE CORNERSTONE INSTITUTIONAL

BAPTIST CHURCH, WHICH WAS THEN

IN A STOREFRONT, A VERY SMALL

SPACE ABOUT 150 PEOPLE STRONG,

AND THAT'S WHEN WE GOT THE

CHOIR TOGETHER. WE REHEARSED AT

THAT PLACE FOR ABOUT TWO WEEKS

TO GET EVERYTHING TOGETHER AND

THEN WE WERE READY TO MOVE TO

THE LIVE RECORDING SESSION.

WALKER: IT'S RECORDED OVER TWO

DAYS. FOR THE PEOPLE WHO CAME

ON THE RECORDING DATES WHO WERE

MEMBERS OF NEW TEMPLE, IT WAS

LIKE ROYALTY.

FRANKLIN: ♪ I'M CLIMBING

CHOIR: I'M CLIMBING

FRANKLIN: HIGHER MOUNTAINS

CHOIR: HIGHER MOUNTAINS.

FRANKLIN: TRYING TO GET HOME

CHOIR: TRYING TO GET HOME

FRANKLIN: I'M CLIMBING... ♪

MAY THOMAS: I WAS IN THE ALTO

SECTION OF THE CHOIR DURING

THAT TIME I SANG WITH THE

CHOIR.

FRANKLIN: ♪ I'M CLIMBING HIGHER

MOUNTAINS ♪

MAY THOMAS: IT WAS A WONDERFUL

RECORDING SESSION, VERY UPBEAT

AND OF COURSE, WE DIDN'T REALLY

MAKE A MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT AT

ALL, BUT WORD OF MOUTH GOT OUT

AND OF COURSE, THE PLACE WAS

PACKED.

FRANKLIN: ♪ I'M GOING UP

THE ROUGH

SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN

ON MY WAY HOME

CHOIR: TRYING TO GET HOME

FRANKLIN: I'M GOING UP THE ROUGH

SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN

ON MY WAY HOME

CHOIR: TRYING TO GET HOME

FRANKLIN: OH, YEAH

I'M GOING

UP THE ROUGH SIDE OF THE

MOUNTAIN

OH, JESUS

ON MY WAY HOME... ♪

WALKER: THE GREATEST THING, IF

YOU EVER WATCHED THEIR

PERFORMANCE IS THERE'S AN

INTERACTION BETWEEN THE TWO OF

THEM WHERE EVEN THOUGH SHE'S

THE QUEEN OF SOUL, SHE GIVES IN

TO THE PRINCE OF GOSPEL, THAT

HE'S STILL DIRECTING HER.

CLEVELAND: ♪ I'M CLIMBING HIGHER

MOUNTAINS

TRYING TO GET HOME

FRANKLIN: GO ON HOME

CLEVELAND: I'M CLIMBIN'

FRANKLIN: YEAH, YEAH

CLEVELAND: LATE IN

THE MIDNIGHT HOUR

CLIMBING

FRANKLIN: YEAH, YEAH

CLEVELAND: OH, LORD,

I'M CLIMBING

FRANKLIN: OH, YOU SHOULDN'T BE

SO LONG NOW

BOTH: YEAH, YEAH

FRANKLIN: TELL A STORY... ♪

WALKER: "AMAZING GRACE" IS THE

BIGGEST-SELLING GOSPEL RECORD

OF ALL THE TIME. AND IT'S ALSO

ARETHA FRANKLIN'S BIGGEST

SELLING HIT. THIS ALBUM IS

BIGGER THAN ANY OTHER ALBUM SHE

EVER HAD. THAT ALBUM DOESN'T

HAPPEN WITHOUT THIS LOS ANGELES

CONNECTION.

CLEVELAND: ♪ WHOO!

TRYING TO GET HOME ♪

WALKER: SO THINK ABOUT THIS.

YOU JUST LEFT THE DEEP SOUTH.

IN THE DEEP SOUTH, YOU HAD TO

WALK AROUND WITH SIGNS ON YOU

THAT SAID, "I AM A MAN" TO TRY

TO GET SOMEBODY TO RESPECT WHO

YOU WERE JUST AS A CITIZEN AND

AS A PERSON. YOU WERE FLEEING

LYNCHINGS THAT WERE STILL

HAPPENING IN THE UNITED STATES

AD NAUSEAM, AND YOU DECIDE TO

COME TO THIS PLACE CALLED LOS

ANGELES, THIS NEW PLACE ON THE

WESTERN FRONTIER, AND YOU ARE

SEGREGATED AND PUSHED INTO THIS

SMALL COMMUNITY CALLED SOUTH

CENTRAL LOS ANGELES. ONE OF THE

CENTERS OF AFRICAN AMERICAN

SOCIAL, POLITICAL, AND

RELIGIOUS ACTIVITY IS THE

CHURCH. WHEN YOU START TO

BECOME POLITICALLY ACTIVE, YOU

HAVE UPS AND DOWNS THAT HAPPEN,

BUT IN 1973, ONE OF YOU BECOMES

THE MAYOR. WHAT DO YOU THINK

THEY FELT? JOY! YOU CAN BE LIKE

TOM BRADLEY. LOOK, WE CAN DO

IT. LOOK, WE CAN BE POLITICALLY

ENGAGED. YES. PARTIES IN THE

STREETS. WE DID IT. WE'RE ONLY

17% OF THE POPULATION

AND WE DID IT.

WEST: I WAS 7, AND I CAN

REMEMBER SORT OF HOLDING THE

NEWSPAPER AND LOOKING AT THE

NEWSPAPER AND REALIZING THAT

THIS WAS--SOMETHING WAS GOING

TO CHANGE. MAYBE NOT TOMORROW,

MAYBE NOT THE NEXT DAY, MAYBE

NOT THE NEXT WEEK, BUT

SOMETHING WAS GOING TO CHANGE.

WALKER: HE RESEMBLES WHAT SO

MANY OF THESE PEOPLE WERE

ASPIRING TO BE. HE WAS THEIR

STORY, IN TERMS OF THE AFRICAN

AMERICANS. HE WAS EXACTLY THEIR

STORY.

FISHER: WE JUST WENT CRAZY

BECAUSE THE GATE HAS BEEN

OPENED FOR US TO COME IN. I

EVEN SAW THE UNSEEN GENERATION

COMING. I SAW CHANGE.

WALKER: PEOPLE SAW IT AS A

JOYOUS DAY. THEY SAW IT AS

UNBELIEVABLE. THE BEST WAY I

CAN EXPLAIN IT IS BARACK OBAMA

IN 2008, AND YOU'RE SITTING

THERE THINKING, IT'S NEVER GOING

TO HAPPEN, AND IT HAPPENED. AND

SO FOR THEM, IT WAS A GREAT DAY.

IT WAS ONE OF THOSE DAYS OF

JUBILEE.

FRANKLIN: ♪ LIKE ME...

WEST: HOPE IS AN INCREDIBLY

MISUSED, OVERUSED, MISALIGNED

TERM. IT GOES BEYOND HOPE. IT

HAD BEEN 4 YEARS OF

CONCERTED AND CONCENTRATED

EFFORT, HARD WORK, VOTER

REGISTRATION CAMPAIGNS, DOOR

KNOCKING, LAWN SIGNS, GET OUT

THE VOTE CAMPAIGN. WE WERE ABLE

TO GET THIS FORMER NEGRO CITY

COUNCILMAN IN TO BECOME MAYOR.

IN THE BLACK COMMUNITY, THERE'S

JUST ELATION.

WALKER: WE DON'T GET TOM

BRADLEY WINNING THE ELECTION IN

1973 WITHOUT THE POLITICAL

ORGANIZATION OF AFRICAN-AMERICAN

PREACHERS, MINISTERS IN THAT

TIME PERIOD FROM 1960 LEADING UP

TO 1973.

YOU DON'T GET ARETHA

FRANKLIN SINGING "AMAZING GRACE"

WITHOUT JAMES CLEVELAND COMING

TO LOS ANGELES. BOTH OF THESE

MILESTONES IN THE HISTORY OF

LOS ANGELES AND THE NATION WERE

CONNECTED TO A RENAISSANCE IN

GOSPEL MUSIC.

OBAMA: ♪ AMAZING GRACE

[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]

♪ HOW SWEET THE SOUND

THAT SAVED

ALL: A WRETCH LIKE ME

I ONCE WAS LOST

BUT NOW I'M FOUND

WAS BLIND

BUT NOW I SEE ♪

WEST: THE SOUNDSCAPE OF THE

BLACK CHURCH IS LISTENING TO

THE MOTHERS CORRECTING

CHILDREN. IT'S THE DEACONS

WORKING THEIR WAY TO THE FRONT

OF THE CHURCH. IT'S THE USHERS

MAKING SURE THAT EVERYBODY HAS

A PLACE TO SIT. BUT WHEN THAT

ORGAN HITS, YOU KNOW WE'RE

HOME NOW.

MAN: PRAISE THE LORD!

CHOIR: ♪ MAY THE LORD

GOD BLESS YOU REAL GOOD

MAY THE LORD GOD

BLESS YOU REAL GOOD

WOKE ME UP THIS MORNING

STARTED ME ON MY WAY

MAY THE LORD GOD

BLESS YOU REAL GOOD

MAY THE LORD GOD

BLESS YOU REAL GOOD

MAY THE LORD GOD

BLESS YOU REAL GOOD

WOKE ME UP THIS MORNING

STARTED ME ON MY WAY

MAY THE LORD GOD

BLESS YOU REAL GOOD

REAL GOOD

REAL GOOD

REAL GOOD

REAL GOOD

MAY THE LORD GOD

BLESS YOU REAL GOOD

REAL GOOD

REAL GOOD

REAL GOOD

REAL GOOD

MAY THE LORD GOD

BLESS YOU REAL GOOD

REAL GOOD

REAL GOOD

REAL GOOD

REAL GOOD

MAY THE LORD GOD

BLESS YOU REAL GOOD

SING YOUR BLESSING

SING YOUR BLESSING

SING YOUR BLESSING

LORD, SING YOUR BLESSING

SING YOUR BLESSING

SING YOUR BLESSING

SING YOUR BLESSING

LORD, SING YOUR BLESSING

SING YOUR BLESSING

SING YOUR BLESSING

SING YOUR BLESSING

LORD, SING YOUR BLESSING

SING YOUR BLESSING

SING YOUR BLESSING

SING YOUR BLESSING

LORD, SING YOUR BLESSING

SING YOUR BLESSING

SING YOUR BLESSING

SING YOUR BLESSING

SING YOUR BLESSING

SING YOUR BLESSING

SING YOUR BLESSING

SING YOUR BLESSING

SING YOUR BLESSING

MAN: SING YOUR BLESSING

CHOIR: SING YOUR BLESSING

MAN: SING YOUR BLESSING

CHOIR: SING YOUR BLESSING

MAN: ONE MORE TIME

CHOIR: SING YOUR BLESSING

MAN: THERE YOU GO

COME ON!

CHOIR: SING YOUR BLESSING

MAN: YEAH, YEAH

CHOIR: SING YOUR BLESSING

MAN: OH, YEAH

CHOIR: SING YOUR BLESSING

MAN: COME ON NOW

CHOIR: SING YOUR BLESSING

MAN: OH, YEAH

CHOIR: SING YOUR BLESSING

SING YOUR BLESSING

SING YOUR BLESSING

SING YOUR BLESSING

SING YOUR BLESSING

WOKE ME UP THIS MORNING

STARTED ME ON MY WAY

MAY THE LORD GOD

BLESS YOU REAL GOOD ♪

[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]

ANNOUNCER: THIS PROGRAM WAS MADE

POSSIBLE IN PART BY A GRANT FROM

ANNE RAY FOUNDATION, A MARGARET

A. CARGILL PHILANTHROPY, THE LOS

ANGELES COUNTY BOARD OF

SUPERVISORS THROUGH THE LOS

ANGELES COUNTY ARTS COMMISSION,

THE LOS ANGELES DEPARTMENT OF

CULTURAL AFFAIRS, THE CALIFORNIA

HUMANITIES, AND THE CALIFORNIA

ARTS COUNCIL.

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