‘The Preacher’s Wife’ Movie Soundtrack Is the Best-Selling Album in This Music Category

It’s hard to believe that The Preacher’s Wife was released over 20 years ago. Directed by Penny Marshall, the cast was star-studded with Whitney Houston, Denzel Washington and current Black-ish star, Jenifer Lewis. 

Whitney Houston Denzel Washington
Whitney Houston and Denzel Washington 1996 | Fotos International/Getty Images

The holiday film was the first of its kind to combine a Christmas storyline with elements of religion, classic holiday tunes and gospel music. The music registered so much with fans that it broke records in an unlikely category.

‘The Preacher’s Wife’ film

The Preacher’s Wife, was released in December 1996 and was a spin on the 1947 film, The Bishop’s Wife. The movie chronicled the marriage of a Baptist preacher (Courtney B. Vance) and his commitment to his ministry and how his preaching duties affected his home life. He becomes shaken when an angel (Washington) disguised as strange helper becomes close friends with his wife (Houston). He’s led to the understanding that needs to have more of a work-life balance. 

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Critics and fans raved about the film, giving it positive reviews. It made $48 million at the box office by the end of its run. Kevin Thomas’ review in the Los Angeles Times called the movie “warm, sentimental, amusing yet serious” and an “inspired reworking” of the 1947 original.

The film was nominated for the Oscar for Best Music, Original Musical or Comedy Score. It also received five Image Awards, including Outstanding Motion Picture, and won two—for Best Actress (Whitney Houston) and Best Supporting Actress (Loretta Devine).

‘The Preacher’s Wife’ Soundtrack becomes best-selling gospel album of all time 

The film included a mix of holiday classics infused with gospel that were performed by a choir, as well as a few solos by Houston. 

The soundtrack’s single, “I Believe in You and Me” was performed by Houston. The song was a cover of the original version by The Four Tops classic and became a top-five hit in the U.S. Houston’s rendition was nominated for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance at the 40th Grammy Awards. “Step by Step” was another hit single from the soundtrack. 

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Music critics loved the soundtrack and felt that it was some of Houston’s best work. A People Magazine reporter noted that Houston appeared most genuine than ever before on the records. Houston later admitted that because of her gospel roots, recording for the soundtrack and performing in the film was her proudest work. 

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The soundtrack was released two weeks before the film by Houston’s record label, Arista Records. 

The album debuted at number one on the Billboard Gospel charts and spent 26 consecutive weeks at the top spot. It remained on the chart for 117 weeks. Eventually, the album became number one gospel album on the 1997 Billboard Top Gospel Albums year-end chart.

Selling over six million copies worldwide, The Preacher’s Wife Original Soundtrack is the best-selling gospel album of all time.