Amen! Music of the Black Church (2020)

About the Film

“Amen!” explores the rich traditions, historical significance, and meaning of Black church music in a concert film. Dr. Raymond Wise leads the Indiana University African American Choral Ensemble in a performance of sacred music that spans from African traditions to contemporary praise and worship music. The documentary, which was supported by an IU Bicentennial grant, was filmed in October 2019 before a live audience at Second Baptist Church in Bloomington, Indiana. The church was the site of the African American Choral Ensemble’s first performance in 1975 and a 40th-anniversary concert.

Historically, the Black church has utilized gospel and religious music as a means of self-expression and a way to speak to the Black experience.

“I grew up knowing and living the music of the Black church,” Wise said. “However, in terms of us doing the documentary, we had three weeks to pull it off, and the majority of the students in AACE were not ones who grew up in the church, so the music was new. So we had not only three weeks to learn the music but to bring the spirit of the music to the documentary.”

Amen” won EMMY and Telly Awards and received a 1st Place Award from the Society of Professional Journalist Award.


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