"Gospel is the root of Jimmy Carter's music taste," Wharton says

In the United States, a few of her former presidents have a legacy associated with music. From Bill Clinton whose saxophone skills were displayed during his campaign, to Barack Obama's yearly playlist, their love for music is not hidden. Her 39th president, Jimmy Carter, have a love for music that spanned across various genres. Besides, he had a connection with artists who fairly influenced his career.

Carter's love for music which was relatively known inspired director Mary Wharton to create the documentary "Jimmy Carter: Rock & Roll President." According to Wharton, this documentary examines the former president "through the lens of his musical playlist."

From the documentary which placed focus on 12 songs loved by the Rock and Roll President, this article shall be placing a special focus on the gospel songs which the former U.S president loved specially.

1. "Down by the Riverside," by Mahalia Jackson
Diversity is the best description for Carter's musical taste - from folk rock to soul to jazz. However, the documentary is proof that gospel is the root of it all. Wharton says, "The gospel piece of this puzzle was so important. It's the genre of music that we dig into first in the film because gospel is the foundation." 

In the documentary, Carter reminisce his childhood memories of going to gospel concerts. Being a Christian himself, Carter has a good knowledge of influential artists such as James Cleveland, Shirley Caesar, and Mahalia Jackson. He was said to have hosted his own (shorter) version of the all-day gospel sings he was raised on once he was at the White House.

According to Wharton, the foundation to Carters story is gospel. This is because it had a great influence on other genre he would grow to love. She continues:

"Music is like the closest thing that any of us normal people will get to touching the divine. You can go to a place that feels like from another world, and music can help take you there. That, to me, is a big part of why Carter's connection to music makes sense, because he was so connected to his spirituality."

2. "Amazing Grace," by Willie Nelson
Wharton affirmed that Willie Nelson's gospel music was actually a balm for Carter during a hugely chaotic turning point in his presidency.

"The 1979 Iran hostage crisis was obviously the most difficult challenge that Carter had ever faced, and obviously a very, very stressful time for him. And he was able to get through that by listening to a Willie Nelson gospel record," Wharton says.

"Not even his aides knew about that. If it weren't for our film, no one would know that there was a musical connection to how he managed to get through that crisis with such grace and humility and the ability to make the hard choices to be sure that those 52 American hostages came home alive. 

"His presidency was killed by it, but those Americans came home alive, and that was all he cared about. The fact that music was the thing that helped him get through that is one of the linchpins, I think, of what makes this concept of the 'rock 'n' roll president' hang together," Wharton added.

The other songs in "Jimmy Carter: The Rock & Roll President" are:

3. "Whiskey River," by Willie Nelson

4. "Maggie's Farm," by Bob Dylan

5. "It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)," by Bob Dylan

6. "Steps," by Cecil Taylor

7. Salt Peanuts by Dizzy Gillespie

8. "Midnight Rider," by Allman Brothers Band

9. "Can't You See," by Marshall Tucker Band

10. "God Bless America," by Aretha Franklin

11. "American Tune," by Paul Simon

12. "Coal Miner's Daughter," by Loretta Lynn

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