‘Summer of Soul’ Film Documents Lost Footage From 1969 Music Festival

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Gladys Knight & the Pips in Summer of Soul

Over the course of six weeks in the summer of 1969, just one hundred miles south of the site of the Woodstock Festival, the Harlem Cultural Festival, with such stars as Stevie Wonder, Sly and the Family Stone, B.B. King, and Gladys Knight & the Pips, was filmed in Mount Morris Park (now Marcus Garvey Park). The footage was never seen and largely forgotten. A new feature-length documentary about the concerts, Summer of Soul, will be released on July 2, 2021, from first-time director, Ahmir Thompson, better known as “Questlove.” Watch the first teaser clip below.

From the announcement: In his debut as a filmmaker, “Questlove” presents a powerful and transporting documentary—part music film, part historical record created around an epic event that celebrated Black history, culture and fashion. Summer of Soul shines a light on the importance of history to our spiritual well-being and stands as a testament to the healing power of music during times of unrest, both past and present.

Wonder was just 19 that summer but had been shaping music for years. Sly and the Family Stone had two big hits under their belt and were about to release “Hot Fun in the Summertime.” Gladys Knight & the Pips were in the midst of their phenomenal chart run.

Besides those top-billed stars, the feature also includes never-before-seen concert performances by the 5th Dimension, Nina Simone, Ray Baretto, Abbey Lincoln and Max Roach, and more.

Summer of Soul (Or When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) – its official, full name – premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, where it won both the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award. Searchlight Pictures will release it theatrically. It will also stream on Hulu.

Watch the first teaser for Summer of Soul

The film has a 98% positive rating on content aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.

Related: The great lost rock festival of 1969

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  1. Cisley
    #1 Cisley 30 April, 2021, 12:36

    I cannot wait to see Summer of Soul. Looks amazing.

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