Questlove Examines the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival in 'Summer of Soul' Documentary

The six-week festival attracted almost 300,000 people and saw performances from the likes of Nina Simone.

Music
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Questlove and Searchlight Pictures have shared a teaser for the documentary, Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised).

The upcoming documentary marks The Roots frontman’s directorial debut and is an exploration of the 1969 Harlem Culture Festival, a series of shows that took place the summer as Woodstock (between June and August 1969) at the former Mount Morris Park (now Marcus Garvey Park). The festival saw performances from legends like Nina Simone, B.B. King, Stevie Wonder, Sly and the Family Stone, Chuck Jackson, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Mahalia Jackson and more, and served as a celebration of African American music and culture and promoted Black pride and unity.

Despite the big names and attracting a combined audience of almost 300,000 people, however, the Harlem Culture Festival was not as publicized as other festivals. Questlove and his team dug up the festival footage, which was stored and unpublished in basement for almost 50 years, and they examine why the event is not as talked about.

“As a first-time director I can’t tell you how much of an honor it is to tell this story,” Questlove said in a previous statement. “Not only a story of music but a story of issues we are currently dealing with now, especially in light of the fact that NO ONE knew this story! One of my happiest achievements.”

The film first premiered at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival where it won the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award.

Watch the teaser above. Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) premieres July 2 on Hulu.

Elsewhere in music, JAY-Z shared some reflections on race, social media and his legacy in a rare interview.

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