Documentary; Biopic / Biography; Music
English, Not Subtitled
The only thing mightier than Lena Mae Perry’s electrifying voice is her faith. She’s spent the last 50 years sharing and sharpening both as the steadfast bandleader of The Branchettes, a legendary North Carolina gospel group that has packed churches throughout the South and lifted weary hearts as far away as Ireland. STAY PRAYED UP is a spirited celebration, inviting audiences into “Mother” Perry’s close-knit community as the 82-year-old strives to extend The Branchettes’ sacred song ministry ever forward.
The film follows The Branchettes as they record their first, fully live album, a hallmark in the canon of Black gospel groups. Health concerns with long-time, long-fingered pianist and friend Wilbur Tharpe underscore the importance of “capturing the spirit” for producer Phil Cook, a white Wisconsin-born gospel enthusiast and musical polyglot half of Perry’s age. Through shared prayer, laughter and praise, this “church gospel noisy crew” demonstrates that music, like faith, ain’t nothing without some fire inside.