Summer of Soul Review

By Essence Ward

The Harlem Cultural Festival took place in the summer of 1969.  It was a combination of so many cultures, artists and the music was start of a great change of the time.  The concert featured artist such as Sly and the Family Stone, Nina Simone and Gladys Knight and the pips. During the time of addiction and death of great leaders for black people, the festival held a place of moving forward. All aspects of music were represented with gospel, jazz, blues and  afro centric Latin American music. 

The 1969 was a time of great change in America. Black people were dealing with great change. They were beginning to make their own change with the Black Panther Party and other revolutionary parties to fight the oppression. During the Harlem Cultural Festival a man landed on the moon but many black people at the concert felt the money could have been used to help people in poverty. Many people were suffering from drug abuse. 

The culture of the Festival was blended to say the least. Herbie Hancock and the headhunters were some of the performers there to represent the afro latin music of Harlem at the time. Edwin Hawkin sung Oh Happy Day to represent gospel music. The music was accepted universally simply because it brought together the people.

Artists such as Nina Simone who gave such a powerful poem at the festival and Sly and Family Stones who had an integrated band were magnificent for me to see. I love to see 5th Dimension and their own reactions to their performance. It truly allowed me to see how powerful and moving the concert truly was.

The Harlem Cultural Festival had a huge impact on the people of Harlem even though it was not shown again until recently. The impact was just the same. Those who were there are still greatly moved by what they saw. The movie really showed how music can move a nation into a bteer time.