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A voice, a sound and a purpose: Bryant subject of new documentary film

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Indianapolis native Rodnie Bryant has had an illustrious career as a director, producer and music arranger. Bryant, founder of the Christian Community Mass Choir, has been nominated for Grammy, Stellar and Soul Train awards and has helped produce a number of albums that have been influential in the gospel music world.

For those who ask how he’s done it, the answer will be coming soon. Bryant is working with Valor Music, a faith-based recording company, on a documentary of his life and career. It will be titled “Rodnie Bryant: A Voice, A Sound, A Purpose featuring the Christian Community Mass Choir” and will debut at the Indianapolis Legends Awards at 4 p.m. Nov. 5 at Indiana Landmarks, 1201 Central Ave., Indianapolis. Bryant said he’s working on this documentary not to honor himself, but to inspire other Black artists to continue in their work and record what they’ve done.

“People of color always fail — when they do many things — to write it down and record it. So when people ask what it took you to kind of get you to this point, you don’t have any history to glean from. I didn’t want to do that. I want to give that pathway so I won’t be guilty of not putting it there, and later I won’t forget some things and forget to note some things.” 

The film is an extension of an earlier audio-only history that was created a few years ago, but Bryant felt he needed to update it into a visual format and add a few more things. He chose film because “nobody reads anything anymore,” and he thought a film would be the best way to reach the most people. 

“I felt we needed to do something else to hold onto this, more than just documentation,” Bryant said. 

The film is a story of Bryant’s entire life and includes plenty of Bryant’s music. He said that of the almost two-hour documentary, about an hour of it is music. He sits down with different music experts and discusses his work, his inspirations and how he was able to accomplish what he has. 

“It was pretty exciting to put into some kind of chronological order what I’ve done. I realized there’s a whole lot of stuff I’ve had an opportunity to do, and this gave me an opportunity to go back and reflect and realize I’ve accomplished a lot of things in my career.” 

Bryant said doing the documentary was satisfying most of the time.

“People always try to extend accolades to me with things that have been assigned to me, and that always makes me a little uncomfortable,” he said. 

Bryant said one of the messages he wants to get across in his documentary is how much work it took to get to where he is. 

“You talk to other aspiring artists now, and most don’t have the work ethic to get some things accomplished,” Bryant said. “To do some things you need to be really hard workers.”

But Bryant said this documentary is not signaling the end of his accomplishments. He still hopes to accomplish some goals, but maybe in a different way.

“I think as far as my career in music, I’m pretty much retired, but we may have to update this again at my real retirement,” he said.

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