Inside the making of Aretha Franklin’s best-selling gospel album

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Aretha Franklin in the documentary “Amazing Grace.” Credit: Neon

Aretha Franklin’s album “Amazing Grace” sold more than two million copies, becoming the best-selling gospel album of all time. She recorded it over two days in 1972 at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles. She was backed by the Southern California Community Choir.

Warner Brothers filmed the performance, and it was directed by Sydney Pollack. Now that footage is featured in the new documentary “Amazing Grace,” which is playing in theatres now.

An original member of the Southern California Community Choir, Lady Mary Ann Hall was 22 years old when she sung with the Queen of Soul.

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Lady Mary Ann Hall at KCRW. Credit: Amy Ta.

“She was very approachable. She was very nice to us. She turned around, and started talking and laughing with us,” Hall says.

She recalls the first time the choir and Franklin rehearsed the song “Amazing Grace,” Franklin started crying, and it took 30 minutes for the choir to regain composure. “That’s what I remember the most...was how touching the rehearsals were,” she says.

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Choir singer Lady Mary Ann Hall and “Amazing Grace” producer Alan Elliott at KCRW. Credit: Amy Ta.
Credits

Guests:
Alan Elliott - producer of the documentary “Amazing Grace”, Lady Mary Ann Hall - original member of the Southern California Community Choir

Host:
Madeleine Brand

Producers:
Sarah Sweeney, Michell Eloy, Yael Even Or, Alexandra Sif Tryggvadottir, Caitlin Plummer, Rosalie Atkinson, Adriana Cargill, Rebecca Mooney, Amy Ta