Interview by Paul Salfen
GOSPEL, a new four-hour docuseries that explores the rich history of Black spirituality through sermon and song from executive producer, host, and writer Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., premieres in February 12 and 13, 2024 on PBS, PBS.org and the PBS App. GOSPEL reunites acclaimed Harvard scholar and documentarian Gates with directors Stacey L. Holman and Shayla Harris after recently teaming up on MAKING BLACK AMERICA: THROUGH THE GRAPEVINE. The series will also have a special companion concert premiering February 9. From the blues to hip-hop, African Americans have been the driving force of sonic innovation for over a century. Musical styles come and go, but there is one sound that has been a constant source of strength, courage, and wisdom from the pulpit to the choir lofts on any given Sunday: the gospel.
In GOSPEL, Gates, the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University and director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research, speaks with dozens of clergymen, singers and scholars about their connection to the music that has transcended its origins and now spreads “the good word” all around the world. The series features interviews with notable names including Dionne Warwick, U.S. Senator Raphael Warnock, Rev. Otis Moss III, professor Michael Eric Dyson, and awe-inspiring musical performances of Gospel favorites “Can’t Nobody Do Me Like Jesus,” “Total Praise,” and others from talents including The Belle Singers, Cory Henry, Celisse, and more.
GOSPEL is a production of McGee Media, Inkwell Media and WETA Washington, D.C. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is the writer, host, and executive producer. Dyllan McGee is executive producer. John F. Wilson is executive producer in charge for WETA. Bill Gardner is the executive in charge for PBS. Stacey L. Holman and Shayla Harris are series producers and directors. Deborah C. Porfido is supervising producer. Robert L. Yacyshyn is line producer. Kevin Burke is producer. Barbara Gregson is archival producer.
About Stacey L. Holman and Shayla Harris
Stacey L. Holman is a Harlem-based filmmaker who has directed/produced several award-winning projects, including episode three of the 2018 PBS series RECONSTRUCTION: AMERICA AFTER THE CIVIL WAR hosted by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. She was a producer on the critically acclaimed documentary TELL THEM WE ARE RISING: THE STORY OF BLACK COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES and served as Associate Producer on the Emmy award-winning film FREEDOM RIDERS, produced/directed by Stanley Nelson. Additionally, Stacey was Coordinating Producer for Nelson’s Peabody Award-winning documentary FREEDOM SUMMER, and she was Co-Producer on MARY LOU WILLIAMS: THE LADY WHO SWINGS THE BAND.
Stacey’s short film DRESSED LIKE KINGS garnered the Tribeca Film Festival All Access Award and aired on the WORLD Channel as part of the AfroPoP Shorts Program. She was the Series Producer/Director of Henry Louis Gates, Jr’s Black Church series THE BLACK CHURCH: THIS IS OUR STORY, THIS IS OUR SONG and MAKING BLACK AMERICA: THROUGH THE GRAPEVINE and the Producer of BUFFALO SOLDIERS, the third episode of the Black Patriots program on The History Channel. Stacey recently wrapped on Gates’ follow up to THE BLACK CHURCH series, GOSPEL, as one of the Series Producers/Directors. The four-hour documentary will broadcast on PBS in February 2024. She is a proud graduate of Dillard University and the New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts Graduate Film Program.
Shayla Harris is an award-winning independent director and producer based in New York. She is a series producer and director of GOSPEL with Henry Louis Gates Jr. Recently, she produced and directed 2 episodes of MAKING BLACK AMERICA and the Emmy-nominated THE BLACK CHURCH with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and McGee Media that aired on PBS. In 2022, she directed LET NOOR RUN, a documentary short for ESPN’s W. Studios honoring the 50th anniversary of Title IX and was a producer on WHO KILLED MALCOLM X, a 6-part Emmy-nominated documentary series for Fusion and Netflix that led to the exoneration of the two men wrongfully convicted of Malcolm X’s murder.
Previously, she was a senior producer for digital video at FRONTLINE PBS. Before joining FRONTLINE, she managed the production of enterprise videos and web series at The New York Times and won numerous awards, including an Emmy for LIFE, INTERRUPTED, a documentary series about a young woman with cancer that she shot, edited and produced. In nearly a decade with the Times, she earned a National Magazine Award, a George Foster Peabody, an Overseas Press Club Award and several Emmy nominations for her work. Before that, she worked on award-winning documentaries for Dateline NBC, including as the producer of THE EDUCATION OF MS. GROVES, which won both an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award and a Peabody. She was also an associate producer on PATTERN OF SUSPICION, a duPont-Columbia, Silver Baton investigation of racial profiling in Cincinnati and CHILDREN OF WAR, an Emmy winning story on Ugandan child soldiers.
Harris has been honored as an IDA Enterprise Documentary Fund Grantee, an IWMF African Great Lakes Reporting Fellow, a Next Generation Leadership Fellow, French-American Foundation Young Leaders Fellow and a Pew International Journalism Fellow. She has served on the Board of Screeners for the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards and the Filmmaker Advisory Committee for the IDA’s Enterprise Documentary Fund and has judged multimedia and short documentaries for contests and film festivals like POYi, POY LatAm, World Press Photo and DocNYC. In addition, Harris has taught graduate journalism classes and lectured at conferences at NYU, CUNY, Columbia University, Missouri School of Journalism and
She is a graduate of Williams College and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.