Down in the Delta

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Down in the Delta
Down in the delta poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster.
Directed byMaya Angelou
Written byMyron Goble
Produced byRick Rosenberg
Bob Christiansen
Victor McGauley
Wesley Snipes
StarringAlfre Woodard
Al Freeman, Jr.
Esther Rolle
Mary Alice
Loretta Devine
Wesley Snipes
CinematographyWilliam Wages
Edited byNancy Richardson
Music byStanley Clarke
Distributed byMiramax Films
Release date
Running time
112 minutes
CountriesUnited States
Box office$5,672,903 (US)[1]

Down in the Delta is a 1998 American-Canadian drama film, directed by Maya Angelou. It is the only film she directed. The film stars Alfre Woodard, Al Freeman, Jr., Esther Rolle (in her final film appearance before her death), Loretta Devine, and Wesley Snipes.[2]


Rosa Lynn Sinclair, an elderly woman, lives in a Chicago housing project with her daughter Loretta (Woodard) and her two grandchildren, two-year-old Tracy (who is autistic) and thirteen–year-old Thomas. Disappointed in Loretta's life choices and afraid of the troubled circumstances surrounding her grandson Thomas, Rosa Lynn decides to send her daughter and her grandchildren to visit with her brother-in-law in Mississippi for the summer.

Loretta is a drug addict and does not want to go, especially since her uncle Earl lives in the dry and rural part of Mississippi. Uncle Earl already has his hands full with his business and a wife, Annie who suffers from Alzheimer's disease. During their stay, Earl has Loretta help him in his restaurant, and the family begin to find strength in their roots, and start to rebuild their lives.

An important recurring object throughout the film is a silver candelabra, a family heirloom. The candelabra, which everyone refers to as "Nathan," has strong significance to the family. It is finally revealed that Loretta's great-great-grandfather and Jesse's father was a slave named Nathan, and he was traded for the candelabra.[3] Jesse stole back the candelabra, and it has been passed through the generations, along with Nathan's story, ever since.



The following soundtrack was released by Virgin Records.[4]

  1. "Believe in Love" - Sunday
  2. "God's Stepchild" - Janet Jackson
  3. "Heaven Must Be Like This" - D'Angelo
  4. "If Ever" - Stevie Wonder
  5. "Where Would I Be" - The Leverts (Eddie, Gerald, and Sean)
  6. "I'm Only Human" - Luther Vandross (featuring Cassandra Wilson and Bob James)
  7. "Just A Little Luv" - Shawn Stockman
  8. "We Belong Together" - Tony Thompson And Antoinette
  9. "Don't Talk 2 Strangers" - Chaka Khan
  10. "Let It Go" - Jazzyfatnastees featuring The Roots
  11. "My Soul Don't Dream" - Meshell N'degeocello & Keb' Mo'
  12. "Uh Uh Ooh Ooh Look Out Here It Comes" - Ashford & Simpson
  13. "Don't Let Nuthin' Keep You Down" - Sounds of Blackness
  14. "Family (Score)" - Stanley Clarke
  15. "The Rain" - Tracie Spencer
  16. "Patchwork Quilt" - Sweet Honey in the Rock


Box office[edit]

The film was successful on limited release.[5]

Critical response[edit]

Alfre Woodard's work drew praise from San Francisco Chronicle reviewer Peter Stack, who lauded her for "a beautifully layered performance...Woodard is magical as a single mother haunted by drugs, alcohol and an inadequate education. She almost single-handedly shores up this somewhat simplistic movie...[h]er instincts for drama and humor provide a welcome dose of human reality, saving a script that veers toward the sentimental."[6]


  1. ^ "Down in the Delta (1998)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 27 July 2011.
  2. ^ "Down in the Delta". Retrieved 25 May 2012.
  3. ^ Ebert, Roger. "Down in the Delta Movie Review (1998) - Roger Ebert". Retrieved 2 September 2017.
  4. ^ "Down in the Delta - Original Soundtrack - Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 2 September 2017.
  5. ^ "'Patch Adams' Just What Holiday Ordered". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-06-07.
  6. ^ Stack, Peter (23 June 2011). "Serenity of Life Down South / Woodard shores up Angelou's 'Delta'". The San Francisco Chronicle.

External links[edit]