Editor's note: "Through a Screen Darkly," a monthly commentary by CT Movies critic Jeffrey Overstreet,explores films old and new, as well as relevant themes and trends in cinema. The column continues the journey begun in Overstreet's book of the same name.

I was a toddler when I first heard "I'd like to teach the world to sing / in perfect harmony" coming from my family's black-and-white television. It's amazing I remember it so well, even more amazing that I remember seeing people dance to that famous Coca-Cola jingle. In a powerful way, music helps us see more clearly.

That song was such a simple sentiment, but its fundamental idea is powerful and true—music can cultivate harmony and peace. That's evident in three new DVDs, which take you on three remarkable musical journeys—to the Talladega National Forest, or the Ozarks, or South Africa—to experience soulful, inspiring music from unforgettable people.

These three films—Awake My Soul: The Story of the Sacred Harp, Homemade Hillbilly Jam, and We Are Together—would make a fine festival for anyone who loves good movies and great music.

Awake My Soul: The Story of the Sacred Harp

"If you sing it very long it'll be in your blood and you'll never get it out."

That's Elene Stovall of Birmingham, talking about Sacred Harp singing, a communal form of worship, a musical tradition of a capella hymn singing with deep roots in American church history.

Awake My Soul: The Story of the Sacred Harp inspired me so much that I watched it again the very next day with my surround-sound system turned up to "11." The DVD is on my list of "Things to Give the Family for Christmas."

Sacred Harp singing has roots in America's rural South that go back about 200 years. The ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.