Summer of Soul

Artist review

Nina Simone performance of ” revoluntary at the festival was an iconic. She became a voice for the millions of black people who struggled and endured headache during the 1960s. In the song Nina sings ,” Are you Ready Black people.” which uplifted and captivated the audience. Mainstream artist such as Stevie Wonder, B.B King and  Gladys Knight and the pips graced the stage giving back to the community. Their attendance was special because they performed at the festival for a wage that was much lower than the earn for other events. The group Fifth Dimension performed their hit ” Aquarius/Let the Sunshine in which incorporated elements of soul, rock and pop. Gospel was a main event at the festival the Hawkin singers performed “Ole Happy Day”. Famous Gospel singer Mahalia Jackson performed a tribute to Dr. King with the song ” Take my hand, precious Lord”

Background of events in the 1960s

The 1960s was a defining era in history that shaped the trajectory of black Americans for generations. During the decade the assignation of and ruthless killing of staple leaders in the black community such as Malcolm x in 1965 and Martin Luther King in 1968. Many black Americans were faced with the brutal reality of losing prominent members who they believed could bring about social and economical change. Another significant event that was happening during the time of the festival was the establishment of black activist groups such as the black panthers. This revolutionary movement transcends across the country take a more active and aggressive role in their community. 

The Harlem music festival happened to take place the same year members of the New York chapter black panthers were arrested on conspiracy charges which would later be known as the Panther 21. This shifted and changed the dynamics of the black panthers in New York forever, especially in Harlem. The Vietnam war had a big effect on black America. Many black men were forced to fight in a war they felt was unjustified. Many families and communities were disrupted by the Vietnam war. Many veterans would come back to America they were still mistreated and denied equality.

Signifance of the festival

Harlem was significant because it was during a period of black consciousness in America. After all the heartaches and transgressions black people faced during the decade. The festival was able to take away the recent pain of the many deaths that occurred earlier that year. The Harlem music festival united spectators with the fulfillment of popular music. In the film, one of the speakers accounts that mothers were selling traditional home-cooked meals on the street signifying the sense of community that was occurring during the festival. Groups such as the 5th dimension were able to connect with the audience and make their status as a black band be known to the public. The festival gave artists the opportunities to give back to the fans who propelled their music and status. They drew in a crowd of all ages and genders.


Essence music festival began in 1995 to celebrate the university of a popular black called essence. Since its origin, the festival is held in New Orleans every year showcasing black music and giving the audience a wide variety of black music genres and performers. R&B, Soul, Funk, Gospel, etc are the main type of much being performed at the festival. some notable artist who has headlined this event includes Aaliyah, Janet Jackson, and Missy Elliot.

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