Mojo’s Pick of the Week – Summer of Soul

Questlove’s directorial debut is a moving look at the forgotten, other music festival in 1969, the multi-day concert that took place in Mount Morris Park (now Marcus Garvey Park) at the Harlem Cultural Festival. This “Black Woodstock” was filmed in its entirety, but then the footage sat in a basement for 50 years, marginalized, ignored, and mostly forgotten.

With a keen eye and ear for the performances, which include Stevie Wonder, B.B. King, Sly and the Family Stone, and Nina Simone, Questlove expertly intertwines firsthand accounts of people in attendance and concert footage, grounding the scene squarely in the cultural change that was going on in the world, in the United States, in New York, in Harlem in the hot, politically-charged summer of 1969. It feels like we’re watching the emergence of Black pride in real time as we see and hear the story unfold, all set to a passionate and inspirational live music soundtrack.

Summer of Soul is a must-see documentary about a time and place that was a touchstone for cultural and musical revolution, even more so than the better-remembered and better-publicized Woodstock, and which deserves its day in the sun, now more than ever. Don’t sleep on this.

Summer of Soul is streaming on Hulu.



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