A fan and collector of American music, Lauro is also the founder of a stock footage library that is home to more than 45,000 hours of vintage television clips, feature films, and newsreels. In 10 years he amassed more than 150 hours of gospel material. "Rejoice and Shout," which was directed by Lauro's frequent collaborator Don McGlynn, represents the cream of that footage.
And what footage! The point is made that gospel, as opposed to other forms of music, was recorded early, both on disc and on film, perhaps because it was considered "God's music" and therefore important to document. We hear a rare 78 r.p.m. record from 1902 of the Dinwiddie Colored Quartet, who traveled the country playing tent shows and black vaudeville, singing "Gabriel's Trumpet." Says Lauro: "This is about as close as you can get to the way it sounded during slavery days." Lauro and McGlynn understand, too, that these clips must be experienced whole. They let the music unfold in real time, not snippets.
From a 1928 Fox Movietone newsreel, we see the fabled Norfolk Jubilee Quartet, taking a break from oyster shucking in Richmond, Va., singing "Do You Call That Religion." The Golden Gate Jubilee Quartet, from the 1930s, is shown mixing jazz elements into gospel, as Thomas A. Dorsey also did. The gospel historian Anthony Heilbut, interviewed in the film, remarks on how the Jubilee Quartet used their voices as instruments, and how you could always tell the difference on a recording between a white quartet and a black one. In the black quartets, each voice had an individual sound.