Robert Odell, Jr. is a seasoned video analyst with several years of experience in the creation and observance of film and digital assets.
Shug Avery of Steven Spielberg's The Color Purple
God Is Trying to Tell You Something
In a dynamic scene near the end of Steven Spielberg's 1985 winter blockbuster The Color Purple, the character Shug Avery engages in a soul stirring rendition of a gospel song called "God Is Trying To Tell You Something."
The song begins with the deep melodic line "speak Lord." As the slow, rhythmic drone increases in speed and intensity we can see the seemingly complicated and unsolvable issues in the lives of Shug and others being worked out by a power much higher than themselves. It seems, just as the song implies, God is speaking and trying to tell something to everyone.
Some of the Ways That God Speaks to Man
According to the Holy Bible, God has been speaking to mankind from the very beginning of his existence. The Senior Pastor of Christ For All Church (CFAC) in Memphis, TN explains some of the ways that God speaks to man.
- Through His Holy Word; “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 NIV).
- By An Audible Voice; (Especially in times of utmost importance or urgency)
- Through Angles; (Daniel 9:21-22)
- Through Dreams and Visions; (Genesis 37:5-10; 1 Kings 3:5-15; Daniel, chapters 2 and 7; Matthew 1:20; 2:13,19; and Acts 10:9-16; 16:9)
The character Shug Avery in The Color Purple can be described as a prodigal daughter (Luke 15:11-32). Shug is portrayed as a woman of the world who loves to party, loves to dress and loves to sport men.
Shug's father, also the town preacher, is disappointed at Shug’s decision to be a traveling blues singer. He is also appalled at her promiscuity.
Like most girls, Shug longs for a relationship with her father. Her father; however, reacts as if his daughter is completely lost. He does not even look her way or acknowledge her presence when she returns to town to live with her old flame Albert, a wealthy, young, local widower.
Before Shug's arrival; Albert, for convenience, had taken on a young woman named Celie as his wife. Although he tries to cater to Shug's every whim, Albert abuses Celie and forces her to clean house and care for his unruly children.
In a passionate sequence near the end of Spielberg's film, we see Shug performing in a "juke joint" (bar) owned by Harpo, the eldest son of Albert, aka "Mister."
Shug is performing a soulful and sensuous song called "Sista" which is aimed at raising the self-confidence of Ceile who has now become a close friend.
The country church, were Shug's father is a pastor, is within ear shot distance of Harpo's juke joint.
Members in the church congregation can her the music coming from the bar and subsequently suggest that the choir should sing the anointed song "God Is Trying To Tell You Something."
The pastor turns to where the choir is and says, "...sing 'God Is Trying To Tell You Something.'"
What Does It Mean to Be Anointed?
In the movie, the merrymaking atmosphere in Harpo's juke joint comes to an abrupt stop when the sound of an anointed song is heard coming from a nearby church. According to gotquestions.org: "The origin of anointing was from a practice of shepherds. Lice and other insects would often get into the wool of sheep, and when they got near the sheep's head, they could burrow into the sheep's ears and kill the sheep. So, ancient shepherds poured oil on the sheep's head. This made the wool slippery, making it impossible for insects to get near the sheep's ears because the insects would slide off." From this, anointing grew to become synonymous with spiritual blessings, protection, and empowerment from God.
The song originating from the church seems to be imbued with divine power and captures the attention of Shug and everyone else in Harpo's establishment.
The Anointed Song
As the church choir begins to sing the song, "God Is Trying To Tell You Something," the impactful melody and lyrics flow out of the church and inundate the whole area of Harpo's juke joint.
The sound causes the singing and revelry of the juke joint to cease and tugs at the very heart of self-confessed sinning, jazz artist, Shug.
The song is so anointed that the band stops playing and begins to stare in bewilderment.
God seems to be speaking through the song. As the anointing of the song overwhelms Shug, she can feel and hear the calling to make amends with God, herself, and her father.
The band and all who are at the juke joint cannot help but pay attention to the powerful melody and lyrics of the anointed song that is coming out of the little country church.
Shug tries to continue singing, but the anointing is so strong on the song that she cannot continue to sing what she wants to sing. She is forced to stop and listen to what the words of the song cascading from the church are saying.
Path to the Church
As the song "God Is Trying To Tell You Something" continues to play, everyone suddenly, with Shug leading the way, makes a straightforward path toward the church. Shug cannot help from being drawn to her father's nearby church, from where the anointed song "God is Trying To Tell You Something" is emanating.
Unable to resist the anointing, Shug rushes into her father's church passionately singing the words of the song.
As if he hears God telling him to do so, Shug's father, after years of separation, openly accepts and recognizes her. Suddenly realizing that their lost relationship has been found, Shug and her daddy embrace with tears of forgiveness.
Apparently, through an anointed song, God is trying to tell something to Shug Avery and to everyone in the church. As the song's anointing touches every heart, God reveals that He is able to speak to mankind and solve the seemingly unsolvable issues in the lives of many.
Did God Speak?
The Color Purple. Dir. Steven Spielbergg. Perf. Danny Glover, Desreta Jackson, Margaret Avery, Oprah Winfrey, Adolph Caesar, Rae Dawn Chong, and Whoopi Goldberg. Amblin, Guber-Peters, WB, 1985. Film.
© 2015 Robert Odell Jr