HIS EYE IS ON THE SPARROW
2006, 16mm/Digital, color/b&w/sound, 4.5min.
"Why should my heart be discouraged, why should the shadows come. Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heaven and home?"
"In the 1930’s jubilee gospel singing underwent a metamorphosis when Roy Crain joined up with R.H. Harris and developed a new style of vocal arrangement with The Soul Stirrers. (Later members included Sam Cooke and Lou Rawls) The Soul Stirrers introduced a more complex kind of vocal presentation employing the innovations of falsetto and swing lead trade-offs with guitar accompaniment and complex background singing with reiterated words or delayed echoing responses. Bruce Conner began working on By and By a documentary about The Soul Stirrers several decades ago shooting their reunion concert with four cameras and accumulating interview material. Conner was poised to finish the piece in the mid – 80’s but the project was abandoned for a variety of financial and personal reasons. From the ashes of this project arises a new collage film miniature completed this year.
In the past Conner created masterful pairings of sound and image with the music of Dylan, Ray Charles, Devo, Byrne and Eno, Respighi, Sibelius, Riley, Gleeson and others. HIS EYE ON THE SPARROW takes its name from a classic gospel song written by Civilla D. Martin and Charles H. Gabriel in 1906 often associated with Ethel Waters, Mahalia Jackson and most recently Lauryn Hill.
The Soul Stirrers cut their version in Chicago on October 10, 1946 and it is this recording that is heard on the track. Carefree and complex the song moves in tandem with a set of found images that seem utterly transparent yet are evocative of other mysteries just out of reach."