Oh, here’s a story. The most important part of any film is what you hear. And music really helps move a film along. So, when I envisioned the film at first I was thinking about all the great jazz that’s come from Detroit. But Naomi’s tastes were otherwise. Oh, sure she likes jazz and even wrote a poem about Duke Ellington, but the music that was closest to her heart was that of Charles A. Tindley…something you’ll know if you watched the little piece above. So, I reasoned that it would make all the sense in the world to use The Reverend Tindley’s music for the soundtrack. Enter Lamar Willis, the Minister of Music at Naomi’s home church. Here is a young man of amazing talent. And he was willing to drive from Detroit to Grand Haven to lay down this music. Most of the tunes for the film needed to be just piano, but he asked if I didn’t also want to record him singing, too. Why, sure! And why didn’t we make a CD out of the complete hymns, not just the piano tracks that were going to be used in the film? Oh, my. Here’s a taste:
Here are the liner notes for the CD (click on each one to enlarge it). And, sure, I’d like to make sure a copy of the CD winds up in your hands. Contact me.
Oh, and 150 or so of The Reverend Tindley’s hymns are newly available through Cokesbury in Beams of Heaven Songbook: Hymns of Charles Albert Tindley. Inexpensive (not to say cheap) at twice the price.
In 1997, Detroit filmmaker Kathy Vander directed and produced a film that combines Naomi Long Madgett’s poetry about her Aunt Octavia and an artistic response by Detroit area painters. The result is this beautifully photographed and produced film A Poet’s Voice, based on Dr. Madgett’s Octavia and Other Poems, which is no longer in print. (It was succeeded by Octavia: Guthrie and Beyond, which is still available from Lotus Press.)
You can download a trailer for Kathy Vander’s film…and why not order a copy, too?
Melba Joyce Boyd, Ph.D., one of the two associate producers of this film also has produced her own about Detroit’s first poet laureate, Dudley Randall. Randall was both a poet and a publisher. He started Broadside Press in 1965. You can see more about her film here: The Black Unicorn: Dudley Randall and the Broadside Press.
In addition to the film, Dr. Boyd is also the author of Wrestling with the Muse: Dudley Randall and Broadside Press, and the newer (2009) and highly acclaimed Roses and Revolutions: The Selected Writings of Dudley Randall (African American Life). She also is the author of a host of other books.