The summer of 1969 was the turning point of all music with pop, rock and soul dominating the charts. I loved that period that brought, such artists as Stevie Wonder, The Jackson Five and Sly and The Family Stone. That also was the year of Woodstock which gained lots of publicity. Little known, however, was another New York festival of different caliber one hundred miles north that snuck in the back door. That was a six week Harlem cultural fest of music and a celebration of black history.
The concerts were filmed but not seen until now in a riveting, 5-star documentary that opens in limited run theaters and streaming services July 2, 2021. This could be the documentary of the year, but also taking into account movies are slowly starting to resurface. The film opens with a Stevie Wonder drum solo as we’re just used to seeing him on the keyboards. The concerts were held on every Sunday from the end of June concluding on August 24th in Mount Morris Park (now Marcus Garvey park) and was organized by Tony Lawrence and included performances from Sly and The Family Stone, Nina Simone, Mahalia Jackson, Marvis Staples and was a joyfully seductive concert doc full of happiness and rivited memories.
One of the highlights was Gladys Knight and the Pips who danced like Fred Astair under the fine calibration of choreographer who had them practicing hours on end until perfected and that it was. The lighting was generously provided by natural sunlight, the best kind of light. All this was made possible by Questlove.