Questlove's bombshell documentary Summer of Soul is doing more good than just winning an Oscar. Today (April 13), a revival of the Harlem Festival of Culture has been announced for 2023.
The event's resurrection was partly inspired by Questlove’s award-winning film Summer of Soul (...Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised), which put a spotlight on the Harlem Cultural Festival that took place in 1969. It was the same year as Woodstock, and was greatly overshadowed by the event in upstate New York. The festival - which ran between 1967 to 1974 - would eventually be informally known as "Black Woodstock."
While exact dates have not been announced yet, the reimagined Harlem Festival of Culture will take place in Summer 2023 at the same location as the original event: Marcus Garvey Park, formerly known as Mount Morris Park. According to press materials, there will be a series of live entertainment and social and economic development programs leading up to a multi-day outdoor music festival.
The new Harlem Festival of Culture will be led by Musa Jackson (editor in chief of Ambassador Digital Magazine), alongside Nikoa Evans and Yvonne McNair. Jackson appears in Questlove’s film, and attended the original festival when he was five years old.
"The original event was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience—one that I will never forget," Jackson said. "With this initiative, we want to create something that evokes that same sense of pride in our community that I felt on that special day in 1969. We want to authentically encapsulate the full scope - the energy, the music, the culture. We want people to understand that this Festival is being built by the people who are from, live and work in this community."
With the festival about a year away, organizers will offer some events around the city in the near future, including “A Harlem Jones” open mic night at the Museum of the City of New York on April 15 and a special screening of Summer of Soul featuring cast members, live concerts, and much more. Additionally, the co-founders have created the non-profit HFC Foundation to help “foster Harlem’s next generation of leaders in music, media, art, fashion, science, technology, and entertainment.”
Since debuting at Sundance in 2021, Questlove's Summer of Soul has won Sundance’s Grand Jury Prize, Best Documentary at the 2022 Independent Spirit Awards, Best Documentary at the 2022 Oscars, and Best Music Film at this year’s GRAMMY Awards.
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