Written by: Celita Diaz-Perillo (Date written: 02/17/2023)

There is much to be said for the power of music and prayer, and this documentary- Stay Prayed Up – is heaping with the testimonies and heritage of those who had a passion for both.

The Branchettes was, and is, a Gospel group which was originally formed by Ethel Mae Elliott, Aunt Mae Bennett, and Lena Mae (Bennett) Perry. From the early 70’s, the trio moved congregations, from North Carolina and throughout the South, to tears with their three part harmony and songs that deeply touched souls.

Producer Phil Cook captures the camaraderie, nostalgia, and music to portray the history of The Branchettes from its beginnings, highlighting hardships and challenges and the seriousness with which they took on the day to day ministry. We get a firsthand perspective of how the group encouraged and supported one another as they ministered to others, even to this day, though with some new members.

Now, after nearly 50 years, even though Ethel Mae Elliott and Aunt Mae Bennett have passed on, we can witness the continuing story of the Branchettes as Lena Mae Perry and longtime Branchettes pianist and friend, Wilber Tharpe, continue the legacy.

While watching Stay Prayed Up, I smiled much, I hummed along at the tunes, and I praised. While the history of this Gospel group and their accomplishments for the kingdom of God may not be appreciated by all, it is a testament of how God uses the humble, available, and determined to accomplish great things for His glory. It attests to how powerful a tool we have when we surrender, dedicate and use our talents as unto the Lord.

Music, in particular, can bring down walls, challenge and touch hearts, and bring souls together in cooperation, in worship, and joyful fellowship.

I would recommend Stay Prayed Up to any music schools who are doing a study on Gospel music, to any individual who loves to learn music history, or to anyone who just loves Gospel music. It may not be everyone’s “cup of tea”, but oh, Ms. Lena Mae Perry and Mr. William Tharpe will capture your heart with their enthusiasm and professionalism as they play and sing for Jesus, but, also, the nuggets of wisdom that they share along the way are also valuable for life!


Released: 07/05/22 (DVD/Streaming)

Running Time: 72 Minutes (Interlocking Pictures/Vittles Films)

Rated NR (Treat as PG)

Links for Stay Prayed Up:

Official Site