Amazing Grace (Aretha Franklin album)

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Amazing Grace
Live album by
ReleasedJune 1, 1972
RecordedJanuary 13–14, 1972
VenueNew Temple Missionary Baptist Church, Los Angeles
ProducerJerry Wexler, Arif Mardin, Aretha Franklin
Aretha Franklin chronology
Young, Gifted and Black
Amazing Grace
Hey Now Hey (The Other Side of the Sky)

Amazing Grace is a live album by American singer Aretha Franklin. It was recorded in January 1972 at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles, with Reverend James Cleveland and the Southern California Community Choir accompanying Franklin in performance. The recording was originally released as a double album on June 1, 1972, by Atlantic Records.

The album was a critical and commercial success, selling over two million copies in the United States alone and earning a double platinum certification. It also won Franklin the 1973 Grammy Award for Best Soul Gospel Performance. As of 2017, it stands as the best-selling disc of Franklin's entire fifty-plus year recording career as well as the highest-selling live gospel music album of all time.

Amazing Grace was remastered and re-released in 1999 as a two-compact disc set with many previously unreleased takes. A film documenting the making of the album premiered in 2018.

Critical reception[edit]

Retrospective professional reviews
Review scores
Christgau's Record GuideB+[2]
The Encyclopedia of Popular Music[3]
The Great Rock Discography7/10[3]
MusicHound R & B: The Essential Album Guide[3]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide[3]

Reviewing for Rolling Stone in 1972, Jon Landau commented: "Amazing Grace is more a great Aretha Franklin album than a great gospel album. She plays havoc with the traditional styles but she sings 'like never before' on record. The liberation and abandon she has always implied in her greatest moments are now fully and consistently achieved." Landau found himself "struck first by the comprehensiveness and depth of the arrangement and then by the brilliance of her lead voice," hailing her performance as "a virtuoso display of gospel pyrotechnics, done with control and imagination." He was especially fond of the uptempo songs expressing "unqualified joy," saying they "hit with tremendous power."[4]

Robert Christgau was less enthusiastic about the album, later writing in Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies (1981): "Because I don't think God's grace is amazing or believe that Jesus Christ is his son, I find it hard to relate to gospel groups as seminal as the Swan Silvertones and the Dixie Hummingbirds and have even more trouble with James Cleveland's institutional choral style. There's a purity and a passion to this church-recorded double-LP that I've missed in Aretha, but I still find that the subdued rhythm section and pervasive call-and-response conveys more aimlessness than inspiration. Or maybe I just trust her gift of faith more readily when it's transposed to the secular realm."[2]

In another retrospective review, Ron Wynn of AllMusic regarded Amazing Grace as possibly Franklin's "greatest release ever in any style" and said, "Her voice was chilling, making it seem as if God and the angels were conducting a service alongside Franklin, Rev. James Cleveland, the Southern California Community Choir, and everyone else in attendance. Her versions of 'How I Got Over' and 'You've Got a Friend' are legendary."[1]

Rolling Stone ranked the album number 154 on the 2020 reboot of their 'The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time' list.[5]

Track listing[edit]

1972 double LP[edit]

Side one
1."Mary, Don't You Weep"Spiritual7:29
2."Medley: Precious Lord, Take My Hand / You've Got a Friend"Thomas A. Dorsey, Frank Frazier / Carole King5:34
3."Old Landmark"W. Herbert Brewster, Adeline M. Brunner3:40
4."Give Yourself to Jesus"Robert Fryson5:16
Side three
1."Precious Memories"J.B.F. Wright7:20
2."Climbing Higher Mountains"Traditional2:32
3."Remarks by Reverend C.L. Franklin" 1:56
4."God Will Take Care of You"Traditional8:48
Side four
1."Wholy Holy"Marvin Gaye, Renaldo Benson, Al Cleveland5:30
2."You'll Never Walk Alone"Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II6:31
3."Never Grow Old"Traditional9:57
  • Adeline M. Brunner is also known as Herman Lubinsky.

Amazing Grace: The Complete Recordings[edit]

Information is based on this edition's liner notes[6]

Disc 1
(Thursday Night Show - 1/13/72)
  1. Organ Introduction (On Our Way) - Performed by Kenneth Lupper
  2. Opening Remarks - Performed by Rev. James Cleveland
  3. On Our Way - Performed by Southern California Community Choir
  4. Aretha's Introduction - Performed by Rev. James Cleveland
  5. Wholy Holy
  6. You'll Never Walk Alone
  7. What a Friend We Have in Jesus
  8. Precious Memories - Featuring Rev. James Cleveland
  9. How I Got Over
  10. Precious Lord (Take My Hand)/You've Got a Friend
  11. Climbing Higher Mountains
  12. Amazing Grace
  13. My Sweet Lord (Instrumental)
  14. Give Yourself to Jesus
Disc 2
(Friday Night Show - 1/14/72)
  1. Organ Introduction (On Our Way)/Opening Remarks
    Performed by Ken Lupper and Rev. James Cleveland
  2. On Our Way - Performed by Southern California Community Choir
  3. Aretha's Introduction - Performed by Rev. James Cleveland
  4. What a Friend We Have in Jesus
  5. Wholy Holy
  6. Climbing Higher Mountains
  7. God Will Take Care of You
  8. Old Landmark
  9. Mary Don't You Weep
  10. Never Grow Old
  11. Remarks by Rev. C.L. Franklin - Featuring Rev. James Cleveland
  12. Precious Memories - Featuring Rev. James Cleveland
  13. My Sweet Lord (Instrumental)
  • Unless otherwise indicated, all tracks (except for "Remarks by Rev. C.L. Franklin") are performed by Aretha Franklin.


Amazing Grace, a documentary/concert film directed by Sydney Pollack for Warner Bros., was set to be released as part of a double bill with Super Fly in 1972.[7] However, Pollack was unable to complete the film because he had not used a clapperboard to synchronize the picture and sound at the beginning of each take.[8] The film ended up in the studio vaults for over 38 years. Before Pollack's death in 2008, he turned the footage over to producer Alan Elliott, who after two years succeeded in synchronizing the picture and sound and completing the film.[8]

Elliott first planned to release the film in 2011, but was prevented from doing so when Franklin sued him for using her likeness without permission.[8] However, Franklin's original contract for the film was later discovered at Warner Bros., and Elliott planned to show the film at the Telluride Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, and Chicago International Film Festival in 2015.[8][9] Franklin once again sued and was granted an emergency injunction against the Telluride screening, saying she had not given permission to screen the footage.[10] Franklin issued a statement saying, "Justice, respect and what is right prevailed and one's right to own their own self-image."[11] Due to the ongoing litigation, the film was then removed from the schedules of both the Chicago[9] and Toronto[12] festivals as well.

The film premiered on November 12, 2018, three months after Franklin's death.[13][14]


Unless otherwise indicated, information is based on the album's liner notes:[15]



  • Aretha Franklin - producer, musical arrangements
  • Rev. James Cleveland - choir director
  • Jimmy Douglass - assistant recording engineer
  • Rev. Alexander Hamilton - assistant choir director
  • Wally Heider - recording engineer
  • Arif Mardin - producer, remixing, music editing
  • Gene Paul - assistant recording engineer
  • George Piros - assistant recording engineer
  • Ray Thompson - recording engineer
  • Jerry Wexler - producer


Chart (1972) Peak
Canada Top Albums/CDs (RPM)[16] 23
US Billboard 200[17] 7
US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums (Billboard)[18] 2
Chart (2018) Peak
US Top Gospel Albums (Billboard)[19] 2
US Top Gospel Albums (Billboard)[19]
The Complete Recordings
Chart (2021) Peak
Japanese Albums (Oricon)[20] 42
UK Christian & Gospel Albums (OCC)[21] 3


Region Certification Certified units/sales
United States (RIAA)[22] 2× Platinum 2,000,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.


  1. ^ a b "AllMusic review".
  2. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (1981). "Consumer Guide '70s: F". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 089919026X. Retrieved February 24, 2019 – via
  3. ^ a b c d "Amazing Grace". Acclaimed Music. Retrieved May 23, 2019.
  4. ^ Landau, Jon (August 3, 1972). "Review: 'Amazing Grace,' Aretha Franklin". Rolling Stone. Retrieved May 23, 2019.
  5. ^ "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. September 22, 2020.
  6. ^ Aretha Franklin, et al. Amazing Grace: The Complete Recordings (Album Notes). Rhino Records. 1999.
  7. ^ Burlingame, Jon (January 7, 2010). "'Grace' film finally near". Variety.
  8. ^ a b c d Willman, Chris (September 4, 2015). "Sydney Pollack's 'Amazing Grace': The Tortured 4-Decade History of the Film Aretha Franklin Wants to Stop". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 7, 2015.
  9. ^ a b Romano, Nick (September 6, 2015). "Amazing Grace documentary pulled from Chicago Film Festival". Retrieved September 7, 2015.
  10. ^ Clark, Noelene; Robinson, Will (September 4, 2015). "Aretha Franklin blocks Amazing Grace screening at Telluride Film Festival". Retrieved September 7, 2015.
  11. ^ Romano, Nick (September 5, 2015). "Aretha Franklin responds after blocking Amazing Grace screening at Telluride Film Festival". Retrieved September 7, 2015.
  12. ^ Siegemund-Broka, Austin (September 8, 2015). "TIFF: Aretha Franklin Doc 'Amazing Grace' Screening Canceled". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 9, 2015.
  13. ^ Powell, Alicia (November 13, 2018). "Aretha Franklin's 'Amazing Grace' concert film finally debuts". Reuters. Retrieved November 16, 2018.
  14. ^ Morris, Wesley (November 15, 2018). "Aretha Franklin Didn't Want You to See This Movie. But You Must". The New York Times. Retrieved November 24, 2018.
  15. ^ Aretha Franklin, et al. “Amazing Grace” (Album Notes). Atlantic. 1972.
  16. ^ "Top RPM Albums: Issue 7686". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved March 6, 2022.
  17. ^ "Aretha Franklin Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved March 6, 2022.
  18. ^ "Aretha Franklin Chart History (Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved March 6, 2022.
  19. ^ a b "Aretha Franklin Chart History (Top Gospel Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved March 6, 2022.
  20. ^ "至上の愛 ~チャーチ・コンサート~<完全版> | アレサ・フランクリン | ORICON NEWS" (in Japanese). Oricon. Retrieved March 31, 2022.
  21. ^ "Official Christian & Gospel Albums Chart Top 20". Official Charts Company. December 31, 2021. Retrieved March 6, 2022.
  22. ^ "American album certifications – Aretha Franklin – Amazing Grace". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved March 6, 2022.

External links[edit]