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Albums Of The Week: Various Artists | Summer of Soul (…Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised) Soundtrack

Just like Questlove's must-see music documentary, most of the killer performances on this live companion album have been sitting in the vault for over half a century.


THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:The Summer of Soul (…Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised) Soundtrack accompanies Questlove’s directorial debut documentary, which won the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival, took home six top honors at the Critics Choice Awards, was named Best Documentary by the National Board of Review and is nominated for Best Music Film at the 2022 Grammys.

Like the documentary, most of the audio recordings that were recorded during the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival have not been heard for over 50 years, keeping this incredible event in America’s history lost — until now. The Summer of Soul (…Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised) Soundtrack is a joyous musical celebration and the rediscovery of a nearly erased historical event that celebrated Black culture, pride and unity.

For the album, Questlove carefully selected 17 live renditions of jazz, blues, R&B, Latin, and soul classics performed over the course of the Harlem Cultural Festival in 1969 as chronicled by the film. The soundtrack boasts everything from Sly & The Family Stone’s performance of Sing A Simple Song to B.B. King’s poignant and powerful guitar-driven gem Why I Sing The Blues to the rapturous Precious Lord Take My Hand by The Operation Breadbasket Orchestra & Choir featuring Mahalia Jackson and Mavis Staples. And let’s not forget Gladys Knight & The Pips showing out on a simmering I Heard It Through The Grapevine, while Nina Simone’s voice smolders on Backlash Blues and Are You Ready.

Said Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, “It goes beyond saying that you can’t have a monster music journey on film without an equally awesome soundtrack. The people demanded ‘more!’. So for the people, we bring you musical manna that hopefully won’t be the last serving. These performances are lightning in a bottle. Pure artistry! Enjoy.”

Over the course of six weeks in the summer of 1969, just 100 south of Woodstock, the Harlem Cultural Festival was filmed in Mount Morris Park (now Marcus Garvey Park). The footage was largely forgotten. Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) shines a light on the importance of history to our spiritual well-being and stands as a testament to the healing power of music during times of unrest, both past and present. The feature includes concert performances by Nina Simone, Sly & the Family Stone, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Mahalia Jackson, B.B. King, The 5th Dimension and more.”