Series/Themes: Black Excellence, Special Guests
Film Year: 2021
Film Length: 74 min.
Director: Matt Durning and D.L. Anderson
Featuring: Lena Mae Perry
Stay Prayed Up is a foot-stomping, soul-stirring documentary that follows the Branchettes, a legendary North Carolina gospel group led by the force of nature that is Lena Mae “Sister” Perry. Now in her 50th year as bandleader, Perry and her group have packed churches and lifted hearts throughout the South and as far away as Ireland. The film follows the Branchettes as they record their first, fully live album, a hallmark in the canon of Black gospel groups. Producer Phil Cook, a white Wisconsin-born gospel enthusiast half Perry’s age is eager to capture the spirit of the group, particularly given healthy concerns with longtime and long-fingered pianist Wilbur Tharpe. A film full of shared prayer, laughter, friendship, love and soaring voices, Stay Prayed Up is a testament to the fact that music, and faith, are nothing without the fire that fuels them. Discussion with Mother Lena Mae Perry, producer Phil Cook, and filmmakers Matt Durning and D.L. Anderson, moderated by Joe Fab (VAFF).
Supported by UVA Division for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion