In May 2017, a new documentary produced at the West Michigan Center for Arts and Technology (WMCAT), “Rhythm and Race: A History of African American Music in Grand Rapids
,” debuted at Wealthy Theatre, providing not just an opportunity for folks to witness a new work of art in progress, but a special screening event for filmmakers to discover new voices that would further deepen the film project’s scope.
A year later in May 2018, “Rhythm and Race” would appear this time at Celebration Cinema North for its big-screen debut with an exclusive interview with Curtis Rodgers, who co-founded the Grand Land Recording Company in Grand Rapids, which is credited as the first record label to sign Al Green.
According to the press release, “Rhythm and Race: A History of African American Music in Grand Rapids takes viewers back in time, as the documentary reflects on various hot-spots in Grand Rapids. In fact, Grand Rapids was a premier stop for many musicians, as it was in between musical powerhouses, Detroit and Chicago. The documentary highlights the Horseshoe Bar, formerly on Grandville Ave, for uprooting famous Blues Musicians such as Little Wolf."
Since the 2018 debut, the documentary, which was created by seven WMCAT students, along with WMCAT Teaching Artist, Mike Saunders, and Grand Rapids African American Museum and Archives Founder, George Bayard III, has also been given a wider platform when our local Comcast office opened their On-Demand platform to subscribers to see this documentary for free.
Continuing on their unspoken mission to get this documentary seen by as many as possible comes the opportunity to view it this time in a downtown church, which has a long history of supporting and presenting the musical arts to their congregation and our city.
This hour-long documentary will arrive at Fountain Street Church on Sunday, November 10 and offers folks a chance to learn a bit about our local music scene, as well as shining a light as to how the music genres found in the film have influenced the social justice system in Grand Rapids, post-World War II leading up to the 1970s.
So if you have been curious to learn more about an area of our local music culture, then this Sunday is a great chance to spend an hour with a film that is sure to inspire others to begin sharing their stories of our city with greater clarity and framing as it relates to our development as a community.