This beautiful local film will end your 2020 on just the right note

woman singing
Ebonee and her son Jaxon both sang in the short film. Still from “For the Sake of Old Times” via Studio 1504

Not gonna lie—2020 threw us some curve balls we didn’t see coming. Where other people have fumbled around how to talk about race this year, 1504’s Tyler Jones and a crew of talented local singers wove music and images into an unforgettable piece. It’s called “For the Sake of Old Times” and goes straight to the heart.

But first, watch “For the Sake of Old Times”—sound on 🔈

See what I mean? It’s soooo moving, we had to find out more.

Bham Now: What’s the biggest takeaway you want people to have from the film?

Jones: “I hope the film can be a reminder that, even though we may be physically distanced, we are deeply connected. Our fate as a community is linked. And as we strive for a more equitable future, maybe the film can offer the space of four minutes to slow down and reflect on how we will move forward together—in greater kindness.”

Where the film was shot

Redeemer Community Church in 2019
A view of the inside of Redeemer Community Church in 2019. Photo via Redeemer Community Church’s Facebook

All footage of the singers was filmed at the former South Avondale Baptist Church in Avondale. In the 1960s, the church’s board of deacons, like many others at the time, issued a letter stating that they wouldn’t seat African Americans who wanted to attend services. Redeemer Community Church currently owns and occupies the building.

Bham Now: Who’s in “For the Sake of Old Times”?

people singing at Redeemer Community Church
These are just a few of the singers whose beautiful voices provide the soundtrack for the film. Still from “For the Sake of Old Times” via Studio 1504

Jones: “This group of local singers are performing together for the first time, coordinated by Carrie Davis. Because of COVID-19, rehearsals were not possible, so it was recorded live on site spaced throughout the sanctuary.

The first two singers featured are Jaxon, age 11, and his mother, Ebonee.

The oldest singer, Eloise Ford Gaffney, was a voting rights activist and freedom song performer during the Civil Rights movement who was jailed for protesting in Gadsden, Alabama. Two of her classmates, Carole Robertson and Cynthia Wesley, died in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham.”

Here is the full list of singers:

  • Allison Sanders
  • Carrie Davis
  • Ta Misa Booker
  • Fatima Battles
  • Meredith Pearson
  • Jill Gray
  • Jamise French
  • Justin Davis
  • Eloise Gaffney
  • Ebonee Elliot
  • Jaxon Moore
  • Meliah Capers
  • Julianne Chaney
  • Lori Rayne
  • Ingrid Richardson
  • Wisdom Bibbs
  • Alton Mitchell
  • Ron Alexander

Bham Now: Tell us a bit about yourself

Tyler Jones
Tyler Jones directed “For the Sake of Old Times.” Photo via Wes Frazer

Jones: “I am originally from Florence, Alabama. I moved to Birmingham in 2012 after completing graduate school for journalism at the University of Alabama.

The opportunity to learn from and assist Rick Bragg while in Tuscaloosa was a big influence, as well as moving to Los Angeles briefly and realizing how much I relied on The South creatively.”

Learn more: Website | Facebook | Instagram

Bham Now: Where did you get the idea to make this film? 

former home of the Confederate Monument in Linn Park
The former home of the Confederate monument in Linn Park. Photo via Matthew Niblett for Bham Now

Jones: “Earlier in the year, the city finally removed its confederate monument in Linn Park, and we wanted to acknowledge the symbolism of that moment. ‘Auld Lang Syne’ is such a nostalgic song, but that gets complicated when you frame that nostalgia in a year like 2020. So that song provided an interesting lens: What is worth remembering? What is worth letting go of?”

Bham Now: How did making “For the Sake of Old Times” change you and the people in it?

Jones: “Music is such a powerful reminder of what makes us human, and I believe this song (from these singers) has helped me make sense of the year a bit more.

2020 is not a clean storyline. I got COVID-19 in October, and it’s been a constant disruption to all aspects of our lives.

So to come together with folks in Birmingham to produce something a time like this has given me optimism about what’s possible, regardless of the circumstances.”

Now tell us, Birmingham, what will you be remembering from 2020? What will you be letting go of when the clock strikes midnight? Tag us on social @bhamnow and let us know.

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Sharron Swain
Sharron Swain

Writer, Interviewer + Adventurer | Telling stories to make a difference

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