100% Rotten Tomatoes ~ "Straight-up Joy"
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"The music that changed America."
~ Melbourne Age
"A straight-up joy to watch!"
~ Film Ink
"The essential story of the cross-fertilization between quartet gospel music and rock 'n' roll."
~ Billy Price, R&B/ Soul singer
With 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, How They Got Over is the hit documentary that tells the story of how Black gospel quartet music crossed over from spiritual to secular and paved the way for rock 'n' roll.

Filmmaker Robert Clem weaves together stories of crossover legends like Sam Cooke and Wilson Picket with "smile-inducing" (NYTimes) archival performances that sing for themselves.

"Among the highlights," according to The New York Times:
"The Blind Boys of Mississippi joined by the Barrett Sisters in a hand-clapping rendition of 'I’ll Be Singing Up There' and Inez Andrews pressing hard on the pedal of her wail and prophesying the rock to come."

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.
"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 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 music critic for the Los Angeles Times
"Sister Rosetta Tharpe nearly steals the show in 'How They Got Over,' the director Robert Clem’s documentary about the gospel quartets of the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s and their undeniable influence on rock ’n’ roll. But she has competition."
~ NY Times
"Smile-Inducing! How They Got Over traces the music from its exquisite jubilee-style harmonies to tugging 'smooth gospel.' With a trove of archival performance footage and the wisdom to let those images breathe."
~ Lisa Kennedy, The New York Times
About the Filmmaker
Robert Clem is a native of Alabama who earned an M.F.A. from NYU film school and has been a fellow at the Sundance Institute Writer/Director’s Lab. For radio he adapted works by William Faulkner and dramatized Hernando de Soto’s expedition and the Hamilton-Burr duel. His first feature length film Big Jim Folsom: The Two Faces of Populism (1997) explored Alabama’s racially diverse, populist revolt in the 1940s. Clem also wrote and directed the award-winning In the Wake of the Assassins (2006), about an Alabama political assassination that exacerbated the racial strife of the 1960s; and Eugene Walter: Last of the Bohemians (2007), also a festival award winner, about the elfin, presumably gay Alabamian who was a central part of Fellini’s circle and who became a champion of the arts in his native Alabama. The dramatic feature Company K (2004) adapted the classic WWI novel by Alabamian William March, while The Passion of Miss Augusta adapts the Victorian novel St. Elmo by Alabamian Augusta Evans Wilson. Clem's most recent films are the Emmy-nominated music film Alabama Black Belt Blues and the upcoming Civil War drama/documentary Sink the Alabama.

Directed and edited by Robert Clem
Produced by Robert Clem and Mike Tannen
A production of One State Films and Tannen Media Ventures
Executive producers JR DiAndrea and Jim Lenard Thompson
Co-producers Jerry Zolten and Opal Louis Nations
Photography by Robert Clem, Alan Hostetter and Tommy Wier
Mixed by Paul Geluso

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