Patrinell: The Total Experience
United States, 93 min., Color, English
The story of the Patrinell Wright and her Total Experience Choir, an internationally recognized Seattle institution, is told against the backdrop of the city’s gentriﬁcation and racial history.
Seattle was a rude awakening for singer Patrinell Wright when she moved here from East Texas in 1964—far from the bastion of racial tolerance she'd expected. But she did have musical talent, deep faith, and unstoppable drive, which she channeled into founding the Total Experience Gospel Choir, building it into an internationally recognized pillar of Seattle's black community. Not without opposition: Church leaders gave her ﬂak for singing in nightclubs, and years later for her ordination, and teachers at Franklin High School weren't crazy about having someone without academic credentials come in and start a choir. This Franklin group, launched in 1973, was the seed of the Total Experience Choir, which by 1977 was touring the country and eventually the globe. Generous home-movie footage shows the choir's shrinking, aging, and whitening over its 45 years, a transformation that played out against the Central District's similar gentriﬁcation. Although Wright ﬁnally retired the choir in 2018, Patrinell remains as a loving testament to her extraordinary career and the joy and spiritual solace her music brought to thousands.