“Southern Gospel” is a 2023 film based on a true story. It revolves around the life of Samuel Allen, who faced many hardships in his youth but never stopped following his passion to become a preacher. He believes that faith can change a person’s whole life. Even though life has brought him many problems, he has never wavered from his true aim: Faith. With the founding of the Dream Church, Samuel and his wife continue their dream of building a home for the homeless and feeding countless needy children around the world. To this day, Samuel has never stopped following his true passion and spreading the message of hope and wisdom. The film follows the never-ending dream of Samuel, who refuses to retreat and follows his dreams. The growing intensity of “Southern Gospel” represents Samuel Allen’s way of living life without feeling remorse for his actions. He always believed that he was capable of doing good in the world and thus, decided to become a preacher like his father. To this day, Samuel Allen keeps the passion alive and embraces the joys and sorrows of his followers.
Joe And Samuel Allen
The film reflects Joe and Samuel’s bond, as he was a great mentor to Samuel. Behind his stern gestures, Joe is a person of unconditional love and warmth who focuses his attention on his son’s growth and development. As Samuel continues his education with Sister Abernathie, Joe notices his disinterest in his studies. He tells him to study well and understands that Samuel needs extra attention. Besides, Joe never fails to entertain his son, and that’s not all. Samuel has internalized his father’s preaching methods and aspires to be like him one day. Well, teaching has its own rules, and Sister Abernathie was too worried about people swearing because she believed it made a person unholy. These doubts often run through Samuel’s mind, but he takes them the wrong way.
When Samuel’s mother dies from complications during her second pregnancy, Samuel interprets this as proof that his mother died because of his cursing habit. But Joe assures him that God doesn’t work that way. He believes the opposite because God looks at a person’s heart. People often pretend to follow God when, in fact, they don’t follow the rules of the Bible. Joe explains this with an example: people never show their true colors, but they manipulate others into believing they’re the true followers of the Almighty. Moreover, Joe believes in righteousness and truth. It’s necessary to share our thoughts with God because if we forbid them, we’ll never know the truth and do the right thing. Even if people fail, God will never abandon them.
Meanwhile, T.L. Whitmore, an authoritarian who cannot control his jealousy of Joe Allen’s sermons, considers them superficial because they deflect from Whitmore’s ideas. People follow Joe and his teachings to break stereotypical norms. T.L. believes that swimming, or in his words, mixed bathing, is a sin that produces lust. Joe, of course, sees it differently, knowing that small activities like swimming can help a person enjoy life and live without limits. Joe knows that too much pressure on a person can break their will to live, and the church’s rulebook makes everything worse.
The Angie Blackburn Incident
Joe has noticed his son’s growing interest in music and buys him an electric guitar, trading in his mother’s old mandolin. Well, Samuel didn’t want to use it because the GCO committee had forbidden them to use electric instruments. The committee believes that the use of such instruments invites the devil. But Joe hasn’t stopped Samuel from pursuing his dream because he knows that Samuel has the potential to become very successful in the music business. To make his dreams come true, Samuel continues to perform in church and makes his first appearance at the GCO Alabama State Convention in 1964, but one person doesn’t like his music: T.L. Whitmore. The whole crowd didn’t stop praising Samuel for his voice, but Whitmore stopped them.
Meanwhile, T.L. doesn’t understand his father’s growing support for Joe and Samuel. He wants to claim all the popularity for himself, but he doesn’t succeed. Whitmore claims that his addiction to the rock and roll genre makes him a devil worshiper. Samuel doesn’t like his statement, but he doesn’t take it to heart because people like Whitmore hate him for everything he does. Apart from this, Samuel receives special attention from the women around him who try to interest him in marriage, followed by Angie Blackburn’s invitation to her barbecue. But Samuel has feelings for Julie and believes she could one day become his girlfriend. Julie also wants to be with him, but she belongs to an orthodox family, which makes her life increasingly difficult.
The next day, Julie doesn’t come to the party, but Samuel and Angie hit it off right away and spend time listening to their favorite music. It’s obvious that Angie has fallen in love with him. She takes him swimming, but Samuel doesn’t go in the water, and Angie gets distracted, causing her to drown in the water, which gets him into big trouble. By this time, T.L. has already painted a bad picture of the Allen family. Angie’s father blames him for the death and believes that it was Samuel who forced her to swim.
The Narcotics Case
Angie’s death changes him completely. He runs away from home and decides to pursue a career as a musician. Samuel performed in various venues until he got his biggest gig at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta in 1969. Although Samuel is a famous singer, he becomes addicted to drugs. He still clings to the Bible his father gave him, but he has left everything behind. His town was full of hypocrites, and he didn’t want to end up like them. But his dreams don’t last long. Samuel is caught up with his past when he and his friends are involved in an accident in which the police confiscate drugs from his car. The police treat him very badly and forbid Samuel from contacting anyone. Surprisingly, Whitmore helps him with the case and manages to get the charges dropped. It’s clear that Joe is involved in the whole process and tries to get his son out of trouble.
Joe decides to step down from his post to concentrate on Samuel’s well-being, and Samuel seizes this as a golden opportunity. He agrees with his father and follows his every command to become the man he’s meant to be. Six months pass, and Samuel is back on his feet. He’s afraid to go to church again, but Samuel gathers his confidence and does it. Gradually, Samuel begins his preaching lessons, and people are motivated by his messages because his view of life is based entirely on his real-life experiences.
What Happened After Bishop Bannister Whitmore’s Death?
Samuel becomes the new pastor, and although he’s a young man, Bishop Bannister Whitmore (T.L. Whitmore’s father) decides to give him all the responsibility. T.L. Whitmore doesn’t like this and tries to stop his father, but things don’t go as planned. Eventually, life gets going again, and his sermons become so popular that Samuel gains several followers in no time. When everything has settled down, Samuel marries Julie, and they become parents of two wonderful children. Moreover, Samuel’s followers loved his sermons and believed that he had the right knowledge for everything. But after the death of Bannister Whitmore, everything changes as his past comes crawling back to him. When Samuel was arrested for possession of illegal drugs, his childhood friend Barry was also involved in the case. Barry didn’t know how to deal with his drug addiction and started to indulge in his old habits, but his involvement with a prostitute complicated everything. Since then, T.L. Whitmore has been trying to bring them both down, and with Bannister Whitmore’s absence, it became easier for T.L. to get a grip on things. The following night, Barry confesses his mistakes to Samuel and commits suicide. T.L. uses this opportunity to remove Samuel from the pastor’s position. Although he committed no sin, Samuel had to give up his preaching activities.
Samuel and Julie decided to move to Florida. He invites his father to stay with him, but Joe decides to stay behind. Meanwhile, in Florida, Samuel and Julie continued to perform at restaurants to keep up with their lifestyles. Both flourished with their music shows and got contracts with well-known personalities. But Samuel and Julie began to argue about all the little things because she wanted to settle in Florida. They had plans to start their own church, thinking it might work out in their town. They had no choice but to earn money through musical performances. Meanwhile, Samuel didn’t know how to deal with their differences. He believed that things would get better with time, but they were getting worse, as Julie slipped into depression and Joe lost his life to a heart attack.
After his funeral, Samuel decides to read his diary, which contains his personal details. But Samuel makes a shocking discovery when he learns that T.L. and Joe had a deal with each other. When Samuel was arrested in 1969, T.L. agreed to help Samuel in return for Joe’s retirement. All these years, Joe was trying to save his son by giving up on his dreams. Joe did not consider his own career to be more important than his son’s life. Samuel decides to meet T.L., but he is a changed man. He apologizes for his mistakes, and Samuel forgives him.
‘Southern Gospel’ Ending Explained – Did Samuel Fulfill His Dreams?
Samuel apologizes to Julie for never noticing her dreams. He wants her to be a part of his life and doesn’t want to live his dream without Julie by his side. Time passed, but Julie didn’t give up on him; she decided to support him in everything. Even though she was lost, Samuel didn’t stop loving her and believed that there was still hope. Julie assures him that they’ll achieve all their dreams together without having to sacrifice anything. Eventually, Samuel and Julie are invited to a church to perform their songs. but there is a catch: when the previous pastor left, an anonymous person decided to put Samuel’s name forward to become the new pastor. Also, the anonymous man had a lot of influence on the advisory council. He wanted Samuel to have this place and make it his own church. Samuel was happy to hear this news and signed the paperwork. Eventually, Samuel and Julie founded the church of their dreams and turned it into a beautiful place, The Dream Church.
There is no doubt that the anonymous person is none other than T.L. Whitmore. When Samuel forgives him for all his mistakes, Whitmore knows that it was a big mistake to exclude him from the GCO. This was Whitmore’s only chance to make things right and help Samuel realize his dream. When Samuel was handed the papers, he spent the whole day in church praying to God for all that he had done for him. Although the whole world doubted his abilities, Joe and Barry knew that Samuel could become a great pastor. Nevertheless, Samuel and Julie started the church in 1986 with 25 members, and now many people are following their steps. If Samuel hadn’t experienced setbacks in his life, he’d never have understood the efforts his father made to make him a better person. Samuel was truly loved by his friends and family because they never gave up on him. Even today, Samuel never stops talking about dreams, and he wants everyone to follow their passion with dignity and integrity. When he was at the bottom, Samuel believed that God had taken away his dreams, but in reality, he gave him a different opportunity. Unlike all the false pastors, Samuel proved his love for God and continued to serve God and his people. He showed the right path to many who needed guidance because he always followed the motto ‘Never give up on our dreams.’
“Southern Gospel” is a 2023 biographical drama film directed by Jeffrey A. Smith.