LOS ANGELES (EFE) .- The summer of 1969 saw Woodstock hold a zenith in music history, but little is known that the same year New York hosted another festival that celebrated the culture for six weeks. African American more than 300,000 people.
The documentary “Summer of Soul,” which opens this week, recovers previously unreleased recordings of concerts by artists such as Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone and B.B. King, who hid in a basement for nearly 50 years as no television Didn’t want to buy them.
“As far as I could see, there were only black people. It was the first time he had seen us. It was unbelievable. Family, mother, children…”, recalls Moses Jackson in the film.
Jackson attended the Harlem Cultural Festival as a child. Fifty years later, his memory serves as the starting point for a film that aims to prevent this celebration from being forgotten.
Composer Questlove (a reference to The Roots) made his debut as a filmmaker by reviewing 40 hours of recordings of the event under the slogan “When the Revolution Can’t Be Shown on TV”, which combines interviews with a party. It was organized just a year after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.
“The fact that the footage was kept hidden from the public is proof that revisionist history exists. And I want to make sure that this erosion of black culture doesn’t happen during my life. The tape was an opportunity to support that cause,” Questlove said.
what will they see
In “Summer of Soul” you can see a young Stevie Wonder, who by the age of 19 was already mesmerizing audiences with a drum solo or “Aquarius / Let the Sunshine In” in perfect harmony with the audience. “I was listening to the song. Harmony of the 5th Dimension.
The meaning of the song “To Be Young, Gifted and Black” is even better understood when Nina Simone interprets it with humility and anger under the watchful eye of “Oil Sleek”, as in many of her described by the attendees.
Questlove combined the musical performances with archival footage and testimonials, which placed the festival within the context of the racial atmosphere of the late 1960s. “Summer of Soul” demonstrates the close relationship between music and politics, especially for a community that had just begun. Fight A decisive battle for the victory of civil rights.
“No one has heard of the Harlem Cultural Festival,” says one of the attendees. No one will believe it”.
Many witnesses to the incident remain incredulous when they revisit images of “Black Power” performing without conflict. The film shows how New York officials allowed the festival to be held on six consecutive Sundays to avoid violent protests on the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s death.
However, and unlike Woodstock, the police did not guarantee the safety of attendees and performers, who were carried out by “Black Panthers”, held in uniform and camouflaged as undercover civilians.
As a piece of music, “Summer of Soul” is full of politics. As a historical documentary it has an impeccable soundtrack. The film was praised at the Sundance Film Festival and once again demonstrated America’s greater problem with the parts of its history that light up and darken it.
“Summer of Soul” adds more epic to the year 1969 in the United States, of Woodstock, of man’s arrival on the Moon and, still, the first great festival celebrated in peace and freedom, black culture.