Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson’s unearthing of a previously hidden Black music and cultural phenomenon, 1969's Harlem Cultural Festival, has led to a treasure trove of never-before-seen nor heard gems in his directorial debut, Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised). With its riveting live performances from iconic Black and Brown soul, blues, jazz, gospel and Latin music greats, Summer of Soul is not only a beautifully filmed and edited montage of Black music, Black culture and Black style, but it is also a poignant depiction of the purpose, pain and potential that is the Black experience in America.
We told you in June that the documentary was the must-see music event of last summer. If the film's multiple award nominations, including nods from the Independent Spirit Awards, Director's Guild of America Awards, British Film Academy Awards and GRAMMY Awards, and already numerous wins are any indications, we were right.
Now the motion picture is up for a prestigious Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. Should the film win, this will become Questlove's first Oscar. We applaud the multi-talented creative and his journey to tell our stories and to highlight Black music and culture. All of Quest's awards and accolades are well-deserved, and we are cheering him on to victory.
While we await the praise reports, we will keep rocking the recently released Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) Original Motion Picture Soundtrack [Live At the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival]. Curated by Questlove, the soundtrack is a compilation of live recordings of the festival’s electrifying performances featured in the film.
You'll hear songs performed by Nina Simone, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Sly and The Family Stone, B.B. King, The 5th Dimension, David Ruffin, The Staple Singers, Max Roach and Abbey Lincoln and a few more artists featured in the doc. The recordings from the summer of 1969 are pristine, and you'll feel like you're right there in the audience.
The Summer of Soul documentary and soundtrack are both required viewing and listening this Black History Month. Find out for yourself what all the buzz is about. Stream Summer of Soul on Hulu and Disney+ and stream the official motion picture soundtrack below to get into the groove.