Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Summer of Soul

In the same summer as Woodstock, the Harlem Cultural Festival held a series of concerts to celebrate African American music and culture. The more than 40 hours of concert footage has been sitting around for decades and now can finally be seen.

Director Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson weaves the performances together with a cultural narrative and interviews from surviving performers and attendees. Along with the numerous great performances, Summer of Soul also captures the immense crowds present at the events only to see the concert be lost to time. Until now.

Featuring the likes of Stevie Wonder, Mahalia Jackson, Nina Simone, B.B. King, The 5th Dimension, The Staple Singers, Gladys Knight & the Pips, and Sly and the Family Stone the documentary produces not just a historical record but one of the most star-studded concert films ever made. With a diverse list of performers, and security provided by the Black Panthers, the six concerts brought together a community of nearly 300,000 people in a cultural event so powerful it still resonates more than 50 years later.

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