At church this morning, the pastor in his sermon was talking about the 1963 movie Lillies of the Field, in which Sidney Poitier played a handyman who built a church for a group of East German nuns. (According to wikipedia, Poitier won a 1963 Academy Award for that role, and that was “the first time a black man won a competitive Oscar.”)
The pastor mentioned a song in the movie, “Amen”, which Poitier’s character sings. See here. But, actually, Poitier does not sing the song, for he was tone-deaf, and it was sung instead by the one who wrote the song, Jester Hairston. Hairston’s singing was dubbed into the movie.
The name “Jester Hairston” sounded familiar to me. I only knew of one person who had the first name of “Jester”, and it was the guy who played the sharp-witted old man Rolly in the series Amen, which ran from 1986-1991 and starred Sherman Hemsley. But I could not remember the actor’s last name. It turned out that the guy who played Rolly indeed was Jester Hairston, the author of the song “Amen”! See here.
Also, see here for some YouTube Rolly scenes.
There is an educational documentary in the works about Jester Hairston and his work with spirituals. If you would like, e-mail me and I can keep you posted as it progresses. The hoped for release date is June 2013.
Thanks for the information, Lillian!