Southern Gospel is a feature film that follows the journey of Samuel Allen, a wayward rock star who finds himself in prison. With the help of divine intervention, Samuel is given a second chance to make things right and use his experiences to become an advocate for fighting drug addiction. His story is directed by Jeffrey A. Smith, who brilliantly stitches together multiple themes with powerful soundtracks. If you were touched by the powerful narrative and were curious if there ever really was a Samuel Allen, then here is all you need to know.
#1. Is Southern Gospel a true story?
Southern Gospel is based on a factual account of Samuel Allen, a rock star from the 1960s. During this time, psychedelic rock was a popular genre and drug use was frequently seen in the music industry. While it is true that some artists abused drugs, Allen was known for having an experimental approach to his music and for using synthetic drugs such as LSD to create unique sounds and enhance his compositions. Drug abuse was a growing problem in the country due to the normalization and acceptance of such practices. Similar to Samuel, some other rock stars who reportedly suffered from addiction were Ozzy Osbourne, Kurt Cobain, David Bowie, Neil Young, Syd Barrett, Izzy Stradlin, Jerry Garcia, and John Lennon.
Ranging from cocaine to heroin, almost all drugs became a matter of concern for the rock community. As seen in the movie, some of these musicians went to rehab, recovered, and preached sobriety to the youth after their unpleasant experiences. However, not everyone has a happy ending; some succumb to addiction and never recover. The trajectory of most artists is the same, i.e., they find their passion in music, attain commercial success, indulge in drug abuse, witness their downfall, and lose their careers. One can even say that, to a certain extent, the idea of substance use is romanticized and glorified in the community.
#2. What is new in the movie?
In the movie, Samuel changed his life by giving up drugs and becoming a preacher. A similar transformation was seen in Austin, Texas when Jacob overcame his heroin addiction and became a leader in the community. He preached the Gospel, helped those in need, and carried out church duties. There have been many occasions when people have mended the bond with their past and found solace in God, love, and peace, allowing them to overcome their addiction.
The movie heavily focuses on themes of redemption, where Samuel reforms his life by enlightening others about the detrimental effects of drugs. It’s quite common for an ex-addict to help others succeed in rehabilitation because living through that experience makes them empathetic toward those struggling with the same problems. In an interview, Max Ehrich, who essays Samuel Allen, spoke about his dedication to the role. The actor was studying the Bible to integrate its ideas fully, and even got baptized by Pastor Jeffrey Smith (director) to make his character even more impactful and convincing to the audience.
When asked about the takeaway of the film, he said, “Yeah, you know, the logline for the film is ‘Never surrendered the dream,’ and I feel like there are so many obstacles that we face in life, and it’s, it’s really important, and this film really touches upon the need to lose the judgment of any wrong paths we may have taken, any mistakes.” He added, “We are all sinners, and we’re all doing our best, and we all deserve redemption in a sense. I think a huge theme of this film is, is also exploring the need to not necessarily feel so, go into a sense of self-destruction or self-hatred because of mistakes or temptations that we may fall into.
It’s really about forgiveness and grace. It’s really about the grace of God.” Taking the aforementioned points into consideration, we infer that ‘Southern Gospel’ is a biographical movie that showcases the life of Samuel Allen, a real-time rock star from the 60s. It explores several delicate themes, from drug abuse, to redemption, finding purpose, and giving back to the community. In doing so, it brilliantly evokes a sense of empathy for yourself and others through its narrative.
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