Summer of Soul Review

By: Sierra Simmons

What was the Summer of Soul Music festival?

Going unmentioned for almost 50 years, the Harlem Summer music festival took place in 1969 in Harlem, New York. The concert was essentially a large concert. The concert was produced by Tony Lawerence During the time period there was alot of racial injustice. The goal of the Harlem Music Festival sought to bring black people together. After security was not permitted, the black panthers made an appearance at the festival and volunteered their services to provide security services for the event,

African American culture in the United States became a large part of the united states because of the of emphasis on music in African American culture. During the harlem Music festival, many people that attended and preformed said the concert can be describes as excitement and sim,ply black excellence.

Who preformed?

Facts about the festival

  • Nina simone – “the first lady of soul” performed hers songs young, gifted and black, are you ready and backlash blues
  • Stevie Wonder- sang “shoo-bee-doo-bee-doo-da-day”
  • Mongo Santamaria- sang “watermelon man”
  • Gladys Knight and the pips sand “I heard it through the grapevine “
  • Sly and the family stone who performed “everyday people” and “Sing a simple song”
  • Max Roach and Abbey Lincoln who sang “its time ” and “Africa”
  • B.B. King 
  • the 5th Dimension 
  • Ray Barretto
  • Charlie Watkins
  • The Chambers Brothers 
  • David Ruffin who performed “my girl”
  • the festival did not revive adequate exposure until about 50 years later because Woodstock (another large music festival) a primarily white festival was happening at the same time as the Harlem music Festival 
  • Also Harlem during this time was facing a crack epidemic
  • The united states prioritzed putting a man on the moon while citizens of harlem thought that money could’ve been used more affectivly
  • 300,000 people attended the festival completely free and all black 
  • It wasn’t until the documentary “summer of soul” that the world finally knew the impact of the Harlem music festival
  • The Harlem Music festival consisted of some of the most influential black people and artists of the time, the festival led to popularity for smaller black artists that may have gone unseen 
  • The festival provided hope for the black community

The Impact of the Harlem Music Festival

  • During this time black people were able to display black pride, where people of color went from “negros” to proud people of color
  • The festival was impactful because it brought the black community together
  • It helped boost morale and rebuild hope in Harlem
  • The festival helped change some of the negative stigma associated with Harlem
  •  Artists were able to display a wide range of music types  for example Evelyn Hawkins performed a more upbeat set of gospel sings
  • The festival was describes as “therapy of the black community”
  • The show displayed a wide range of genres such as blues, funk, soul, afro-cuban, and jazz fusion
  • It made visible the scope of black artists of motown 
  • the festival also helped spread black music and ideas