NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 19: Aretha Franklin performs onstage during the "Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives" Premiere Concert during the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival at Radio City Music Hall on April 19, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival)

A documentary about Aretha Franklin, recorded 46 years ago, will be released shortly. The movie Amazing Grace shows the church performances that eventually led to the gospel album of Franklin with the same name.

The singer is very shy in the film, says niece Sabrina Owens to Variety. “In nothing, the self-assured person we saw later, she might say five words in the entire film, and you can only see her singing in a beautiful, charismatic voice.”

During the filming of the docu Franklin was thirty and already a well-known soul singer. With Amazing Grace she went back to her roots, gospel music from the church. 


Music label Warner had the documentary made in 1972 to release the album Amazing Grace. The twenty hours of recordings, however, showed all kinds of defects, so the film remained on the shelf. The record did come true and is still the best-selling in the gospel genre.

The legal battle for Franklin

Producer Alan Elliott bought the rights of the docu in 2008. He fought a time battle with Franklin, who claimed that he was not allowed to use her image. The two signed an agreement. In 2015, the film will still run at a number of festivals, but that prevented the singer. 

In 2015 she declared to local newspaper Detroit Free Press : “It is not that I am not happy with the film, because it is very beautiful, but I can not say anything legally about it, because there are problems.”

Nicht Owens now says: “We have left that behind, and both parties are looking forward to sharing this film with the public”. The film premiered later this month at the DOC NYC festival in New York.