Sharing this on behalf of our good friends at the Bologna Performing Arts Center.
The only thing mightier than Lena Mae Perry’s electrifying voice is her faith. She has 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 her sacred song ministry ever forward.
This fast-paced, foot-thumping documentary follows Perry and The Branchettes as they prepare to record their first, fully live album, a hallmark in the canon of Black gospel groups. Health concerns with long-time, long-fingered pianist 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, hardships, and praise, this “church gospel noisy crew” demonstrates that music, like faith, ain’t nothing without some fire inside.
Run Time: 72 minutes. FOLLOWING THE FILM! Stay for a Q&A with the filmmaker.