Patrinell: The Total Experience

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USA | 2019 | 94 minutes | Andrew Elizaga, Tia Young

The story of the indefatigable Patrinell Wright and her Total Experience Gospel Choir, an internationally recognized Seattle institution, is told against the backdrop of the Central District’s gentrification and our city’s racial history.

Seattle was a rude awakening for singer Patrinell Wright when she moved here from East Texas in 1964—far from the bastion of racial tolerance she'd expected—and the most affecting story she tells in Andrew Elizaga and Tia Young's doc about her life is of her grueling three-and-a-half-day bus journey here. But she did have musical talent, deep faith, and unstoppable drive, all channeled into founding the Total Experience Gospel Choir and building it into an internationally recognized pillar of Seattle's black community. Not without opposition: Church leaders gave her flak for singing in nightclubs, and years later for her ordination, and teachers at Franklin High School weren't crazy about having someone without academic credentials come in and start a choir. ("My biggest fight came from my own people," Wright admits.) This Franklin group, launched in 1973, was the seed of the TEGC, which by 1977 was touring the country and eventually the globe. But generous home-movie footage shows the choir's shrinking, aging, and whitening over its 45 years, a transformation that played out against the Central District's similar gentrification. (It's shocking that today, one interviewee points out, the neighborhood is only 10% African-American.) Wright finally retired the choir last October, but Patrinell remains as a loving testament to her extraordinary career and the joy and spiritual solace her music brought to thousands.

Director Biography
Tia Young joined the Total Experience Gospel Choir as a young girl in 1975 and grew up in Seattle's Central District. Rejoining the choir in 2014, she served as choir administrator and assistant to Pastor Wright. She is the producer and co-director of Patrinell: The Total Experience, her first feature film.

A resident of Tacoma, Washington, Andrew Elizaga is editor and co-director of  Patrinell: The Total Experience, his debut feature film. Elizaga developed an enthusiasm for indie-documentary filmmaking after making videos about sea kayaking, wooden boatbuilding, and traditional arctic kayaks. A frequent collaborator with cinematographer Katya Palladina, Elizaga has won awards for his short films: A Hospital In The Pines, Fake It Till You Make It, And Dancing With Hope.

Sponsored by 4Culture, City of Shoreline, Encore Media Group, National Endowment for the Arts, Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, Shoreline Community College, Washington State Arts Commission, WatchGuard Technologies, Inc., Women In Film Seattle

  • Director: Andrew Elizaga, Tia Young
  • Principal Cast: Rev. Patrinell Staten Wright, Rev. Gregory Staten, Rev. Dr. Samuel Barry McKinney
  • Premiere Status: World Premiere
  • Country: USA
  • Year: 2019
  • Running Time: 94 minutes
  • Producer: Tia Young
  • Screenplay: Andrew Elizaga
  • Cinematographers: Katya Palladina
  • Editors: Andrew Elizaga
  • Music: Rev. Patrinell Staten Wright and the Total Experience Gospel Choir
  • Website: Official Film Website
  • Filmography: Debut Feature Film
  • Language: English
  • Format: DCP