Summer of Soul

By: Sierra Foster

The Summer of Soul really acted as a great description of the 1969 event that was held by Tony Lawrence in Harlem, New York. This film definitely told the story of music and also included great history that pieced together the social climate at that time and why this festival was so important for all those who attended and witnessed it. The event was known as the “Harlem Cultural Festival” and showcased a variety of artists from blues of B.B King to the R&B of Stevie Wonder, along with many other artists and groups such as Nina Simone, the 5th Dimensions, and Edwin Hawkins. This festival brought out the best in the community that was facing great turmoil. Some of this turmoil had been related to the protesting of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, which was causing great division within the black community with protesters still wanting peace and others seeing where the peaceful protest got Dr. King. There was also an influx of drug use in the surrounding areas which was killing the people and with it their culture. This all contributed to how the festival gave music the ability to bring the whole culture together for what seemed like “one big cookout” with a “sea of black people” , as stated by a witness of the festival which had not been seen since it’s taping for 50 years. The festival also had political solace where the panthers policed the event, alongside the police officers of the city which caused no tension. This event brought together any and everyone and held the showcase of the year with blues artists , jazz artists , R&B artists, organists, saxophonists, pianists and a variety of other genres and talents.