On November 26, 1996 (26 years ago today), The Preacher's Wife Original Soundtrack, from the movie of the same name was released. Produced by Whitney Houston, Mervyn Warren, Babyface, David Foster and others, the album is the biggest-selling gospel album of all time. The album reached #1 on the Billboard Top R&B Album Chart and #3 on the Billboard 200 Album Chart, as well as spending 26 weeks at the top of the Billboard Top Gospel Albums chart.
The lead single "I Believe In You and Me" was nominated for a Grammy for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance and the soundtrack received a nomination for Best R&B Album.
The movie was a remake of 1947's The Bishop's Wife. It stars Denzel Washington as a Christmas angel visiting a reverend (Courtney Vance) and his wife (Houston), who might appreciate some divine intervention.
Although the movie's volatile production schedule was complicated by Houston (she would sing only in the afternoons and evenings), the diva was the least of Marshall's concerns. During last winter's shoot, snowstorms froze the cast and crew out of several days of filming; when they headed to Portland, Maine, to shoot a scene on an ice-skating rink, a warm spell left them standing on slippery, sloppy puddles. "We were mopping up the water," says Marshall. "And we had to make our own snow."
And nature wasn't the only element bedeviling The Preacher's Wife. In New York City, robberies were a common occurrence in the iffy neighborhoods used as locations. In Yonkers, a building a block away from where The Preacher's Wife was filming caught fire. Some of the production's grips were among the first to begin rescue efforts, but two Yonkers children died in the blaze. According to several crew members, the weekend before filming began in the Newark church, an elderly woman broke her hip there and subsequently died. And during the shoot, a grip was struck and killed by a car while crossing the street.
"It was so terrible, so terrible," says Washington, who matched the funds raised by crew members for the family of the deceased grip. But even though the filmmakers' memories of the shoot are shadowed by adversity, the movie itself seems blessed. The film grossed $56,432,646 worldwide, of which $48,102,795 was in the US, ranking The Preacher's Wife as #33 in domestic box office receipts for movies released in 1996. The movie's US gross was only slightly below that of Evita ($50 million) and above those for Romeo + Juliet ($46.3 million) and One Fine Day ($46.2 million).