Summer Of Soul (...Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised) [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack] [Live at the Harlem Cultural Festival, 1969]

Various Artists

Summer Of Soul (...Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised) [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack] [Live at the Harlem Cultural Festival, 1969]

“When we talk about Black erasure and racism, people often think that it's like a mob that's literally burning history,” Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson tells Apple Music. “But in this case, it was a situation where it's a casual 'eh, it's not a big deal'—which is even just as dangerous.” The Roots drummer and late-night TV fixture is referring to 1969’s Harlem Cultural Festival, a series of events that took place in uptown Manhattan’s Mount Morris Park. Much of the footage and even the footprint of these shows seemed lost to the ages, a set of circumstances Thompson sought to thwart by directing the Oscar-nominated 2021 documentary Summer of Soul (...Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised). “I knew this was my chance to correct history,” he says. Taking place over the same summer as the now-infamous Woodstock concerts upstate, this iteration of the seminal yet heretofore largely unsung event series featured some of the most important names in jazz and soul music, several of whom appear on the film’s soundtrack. Among the performances captured here are momentous sections of sets by Nina Simone, Sly & The Family Stone, and The Staple Singers. Latin jazz giants Ray Barretto and Mongo Santameria tear through some of their signature songs, while former Temptations singer David Ruffin belts out his old band’s classic “My Girl.” Beyond the entertainment, the festival also had a political bent via participation from community leaders and security by the Black Panthers. “I felt like it was really important to show that these were not only people using their voice for activists’ purpose, but also that these people had a passion for their art,” he says. “And that's what I want people to learn from this.”

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