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'I'm So Glad' reveals history of Kansas City's Black gospel music scene

Isaac Cates performs at the showing of "I'm So Glad"
Posted at 4:53 PM, Apr 15, 2024

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Englewood Arts in Independence is a space meant to celebrate local art and artists, and on Saturday, it revealed an art form not many may know comes from Kansas City: gospel music.

Paul Wenske is a former journalist and the director of the documentary "I'm So Glad: Kansas City's Untold Legacy of Black Gospel Music". It's a two-year project that his family collaborated on.

Paul Wenske, director of "I'm So Glad".

The idea came to him as a gospel singer himself.

What he discovered proved Kansas City is a hub for not just jazz music.

"A lot of people don’t realize that there was a mixture of gospel and jazz at 18th and Vine that went on to influence the world," Wenske said. "We found in our research and in our documentary that the first nationally recognized gospel singer in 1916 was right here in Kansas City."

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The documentary showcases a timeline of where gospel started and where it is now, plus the deeper meaning.

"It carries our story," said Isaac Cates, the documentary's narrator. "Our story as a Black man, it means so much."

Isaac Cates, "I'm So Glad" narrator and Director of Music Outreach at the Church of the Resurrection.

Cates is also the Director of Music Outreach at the Church of the Resurrection, and a talented gospel musician.

"Our sound, our rhythms, all of these things are so important and it’s told through gospel music," Cates said.

For Wenske, it's one more reason to love his city.

"We all know Kansas City is a great place to live, and this is one more thing that we should be proud of," Wenske said. "I hope they take away a really good feeling. A feeling of inclusiveness, a feeling of happiness, a celebration. A feeling of ah-ha!"

Like Englewood Arts, the documentary is giving a platform to artists that may have gone unrecognized.

"You matter, your story is important, there are story that have come before you... and the community is working to make sure that we give you a platform, a voice," Cates said.

Find upcoming showings here.