Summer of Soul filled with historical significance and palpable joy – Catholic World Report

The story behind Summer of Soul is nearly as good as the film itself. In the summer of 1969, music producer Hal Tulchin and promoter Tony Lawrence organized the Harlem Cultural Festival, a month-long musical event that featured a most diverse and dazzling array of African American musical artists of the time, including Stevie Wonder, The 5th Dimension, The Temptations, and B.B. King. The entire event was recorded on video tape, a technology still in its infancy, in attempt to bring the program to television. But that production never materialized, and the magnetic strip sat undisturbed in a basement for fifty years. Then it was miraculously recovered by Amir “Questlove” Thompson, who gave it the mainstream documentary it deserved. The result is a film of significant historic importance and perhaps the purest act of joy currently showing in theaters. The plot of the festival begins with vision of Tony Lawrence. A singer who was nicknamed “The Continental Dreamboat”, Lawrence wanted to create a music festival in the heart of Harlem with two goals:  to celebrate the African American experience through song and bring Afro-centric styles of music to a wider audience. He brought together styles from all walks of life including traditional gospel, pop, rock, Motown, Latin inspired, and everything in between. This is the debut of director Questlove, leader of The Roots, The Tonight Show’s house band. He proceeds slowly and carefully, allowing the music to continue uninterrupted for long stretches. At a recent press junket, he compared editing the film to his early career as a DJ, taking small clips and putting them together to create a greater narrative. Spliced into acts are reactions from the musicians themselves, now decades older, who are seeing five-decade-old footage for the first time.

Summer of Soul filled with historical significance and palpable joy – Catholic World Report

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