Ethel Caffie-Austin, a daughter of the coalfields, is West Virginia’s “First Lady of Gospel Music.” The recipient of numerous awards in the U.S. and Europe, Caffie-Austin was guest artist at Wolf Trap, has sung with Pete Seeger, and appeared on West Virginia’s Mountain Stage with Joan Baez, Sweet Honey in the Rock, and Kathy Mattea. She made her debut at the Kennedy Center in Women of Gospel. This documentary features Caffie-Austin performing a range of spirituals, hymns and contemporary gospel numbers that represent the rich cultural heritage of African American song and worship. Caffie-Austin's enthusiasm and belief in the redemptive power of faith are apparent as she is seen teaching gospel to a youth group, ministering to inmates at a state prison, and leading the choir at the Black Sacred Music Festival in Institute, West Virginia. Oral history, archival material, and interviews are combined with performance footage to tell a powerful story of personal freedom and triumph through faith, wisdom, and the support of a caring community.
Screenings & Festivals
West Virginia International Film Festival
Workers Cultural Festival, Beard’s Fork, WV