Per Billboard, the Harlem Festival of Culture will be an annual affair kicking off in the summer of 2023. It will take place at Marcus Garvey Park, the same site that hosted the original 1969 festival that was the subject of Questlove’s film. The park was called Mount Morris Park in 1969 and received a change in name in 1973.
Nina Simone during Questlove’s ‘Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)’. CREDIT: Alamy
Like the original 1969 event, the upcoming festival will be a multi-day outdoor celebration of African American music, pride, culture, beauty and fashion.
The Harlem Festival of Culture will kick off a yearlong series of events on April 15 with A Harlem Jones open mic night at the Museum of the City of New York. Live performances will be held at Marcus Garvey Park in May, although details have yet to be announced.
BB King playing The Harlem Cultural Festival in 1969. CREDIT: Alamy
The festival’s revival comes after Ahmir ‘Questlove’ Thompson’s 2021 documentary Summer of Soul (… Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised) won an Oscar for Best Documentary Feature and a Grammy for Best Music Film. Last year, it won the Grand Jury prize at Sundance Film Festival.
Musa Jackson – who attended the original 1969 festival and features in Summer of Soul – is co-founder of the Harlem Festival of Culture alongside Nikoa Evans and Yvonne McNair. “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,” Jackson said in a statement.
“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.”
Questlove’s Summer of Soul received a five-star rating from NME. “The Harlem Cultural Festival needed not just recognition, but ownership. With Summer of Soul, it finally has both,” reviewer Leonie Cooper wrote.
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