March 23, 2023

HOW THEY GOT OVER, streaming at Rivertown Film from February 25

Showing: Streaming from 2/25
Title: How They Got Over
Year: 2018
Country: USA
Genre: ,

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How They Got Over celebrates the spirit of gospel performers and how they helped usher in a musical revolution that changed the world forever. Beginning in the 1920s, Black singers across the country took to the highways as the new technology of radio and records made it possible to reach a wider audience. Intense competition brought new ways to entertain, first with guitars, later with full bands, then with a performance style that would inspire rock and roll. 2018, USA, 87 minutes, documentary.

Their music was infectious, filling houses from the chittlin’ circuit to the Apollo and other major auditoriums across the country. The success of gospel quartets inspired record labels to form “doo-wop” groups that enticed gospel singers like Sam Cooke, Lou Rawls and Wilson Pickett to cross over to greater fame.

Rivertown Film Society presents HOW THEY GOT OVER on Virtual Cinema.
Purchase tickets HERE.
Upon payment of a $10 rental fee you will have 3 days to watch the film. If you have rented a film from First Run Features in the past and you do not remember your password, please use the “Forgot your password?” option to create a new one. When you have completed your order, you will immediately receive an email receipt, which includes a “view now” button. If you do not receive the receipt, your order did not complete. Check your spam folder!

Soon to be the Blind Boys of Alabama


Join the discussion with Daniel Wolff, author of You Send Me: The Life and Times of Sam Cooke, and Angel Brooks Hill of Rockland County gospel pioneers, The Brooks Family Gospel Singers. Tues, 3/8, at 6 PM on Zoom. REGISTER FOR THE DISCUSSION HERE.


Sister Rosetta Tharpe


How They Got Over features classic performance footage of the Soul Stirrers, Dixie Hummingbirds, Blind Boys of Alabama and Mississippi, Sensational Nightingales, Mighty Clouds of Joy, Highway QCs, Davis Sisters, Sister Rosetta Tharpe and many more. Some of the greatest names in quartet music are interviewed in the film, giving vivid accounts of how they “got over” in their performances: shouting, bending over backwards, dancing, jumping off the stage – what came to be known as “gospel drama.”

“How They Got Over is a revealing and inspiring look at the massive contribution of gospel music to the spirit and vitality of rock ‘n’ roll: an invaluable documentary

The Soul Stirrers, with Sam Cooke on the left.

which combines historical scholarship with thrilling glimpses of gospel singers, both superstars of the genre and some you’ll probably be experiencing for the first time.” -Robert Hilburn, former pop critic of the Los Angeles Times

“As a lifetime fan of gospel music, I believe this excellent film tells the story and shows the artists in a most compelling way.” -Jon Landau, critic, producer, & manager of Bruce Springsteen