Arts at UNCW

Stay Prayed Up
OCT. 14, 2022 
AT 7:30 p.m.
Jengo's Playhouse, 815 Princess Street TICKETS:
$10

Click here to purchase tickets!A spirited celebration of sacred song ministry 

The only thing mightier than Lena Mae Perry’s electrifying voice is her faith. She’s spent the last 50 years sharing and sharpening as the steadfast bandleader of The Branchettes, a legendary North Carolina gospel group that has packed churches throughout the South and lifted weary hearts as far away as Ireland. Stay Prayed Up is a spirited celebration, inviting audiences into “Mother” Perry’s close-knit community as the 82-year-old strives to extend her sacred song ministry ever forward.  

This fast-paced, foot-thumping documentary follows Perry and The Branchettes as they prepare to record their first, fully live album, a hallmark in the canon of Black gospel groups. Health concerns with long-time, long-fingered pianist Wilbur Tharpe underscore the importance of “capturing the spirit” for producer Phil Cook, a white Wisconsin-born gospel enthusiast and musical polyglot who is half Perry’s age. Through shared prayer, laughter, hardships, and praise, this “church gospel noisy crew” demonstrates that music, like faith, ain’t nothing without some fire inside.

The Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers is a program of South Arts. This screening is supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and through partnerships with Working Films, Cucalorus and WHQR.