Day: February 12, 2021

“Black Church” ripples with history, humanity

For centuries, the Black church has towered over American life.
“The church was the epicenter,” Stacey Holman, producer-director of a vibrant PBS documentary, told the Television Critics Associaition. It was “where we could gather freely, we could commune freely.”
It’s been a place of music and message, said gospel great Yolanda Adams. “Jesus was always about uplifting the people who were downtrodden.”\
And it’s been a place of permanence, said Henry Louis Gates (shown here), the show’s writer and host. “The Black church is the oldest, the most continuous and most important institution” in African-American history. So he’s fashioned “The Black Church: This is Our Story, This is Our Song,” from 9-11 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday (Feb. 16-17). Read more…

“Voice of Freedom” launches big PBS week

The world seemed to agree that Marian Anderson (shown here) was a great singer.
Audiences cheered; critics raved. Conductor Arturo Toscanani said this was a voice “one is privileged to hear only once in 100 years.”
What people didn’t agree on, in a segregated time, was where she could perform. That’s at the core of “American Experience: Voice of Freedom” (9 p.m. Monday, Feb. 15), a documentary that launches an exceptionally strong week on PBS.
It’s followed on Tuesday and Wednesday by Henry Louis Gates’ resounding “The Black Church: This Is My Story, This Is My Song.” The week ends Sunday with an emotional, Christmastime season-finale of “All Creatures Great and Small.” Read more…

Best-bets for Feb. 14: “Idol”returns, Lincoln lingers

1) “American Idol” season-opener, 8 p.m., ABC. Last spring, “Idol” did an impressive job of adjusting to social-distancing, with talented people (including Nick Merico, shown here) and strong, at-home performances. Now auditions begin in three California cities. Luke Bryan, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie are again the judges; Ryan Seacrest hosts … as he’s been doing since the opener, in the summer of 2002. Read more…

Week’s top-10 for Feb. 15: A stellar stretch for PBS

1) “The Black Church,” 9-11 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, PBS. Here is non-fiction TV at its best – joyful, passionate, yet willing to point out faults. Henry Louis Gates ranges from tiny churches with lay pastors to a 14,000-seat arena (shown here) with video screens and a band. He tells of slaves bringing religions – Christian, Muslim, more – from Africa, joining White churches, then breaking off. He points to flaws – biases against women, gays and uneducated – and strengths, rippling with music and warm memories. Read more…