Music festivals have been around for decades now and are still a staple in the musical experience of life. Festivals like Coachella, Rolling Loud, Bonnaroo, and Lollapalooza see thousands upon thousands of music fans who gather to see their favorite artists. Before, these festivals though, there were predecessors. One, in particular, being Woodstock, which was held in 1969. Woodstock is one of the most popular festivals and was prevalent during peace and anti-war ideologies. The Harlem Cultural Festival was on the complete opposite side of the spectrum during 1969. This festival was held in the summer of 1969.
Some of the most influential and iconic performers graced the stage, including Nina Simone, Stevie Wonder, Mahalia Jackson, Gladys Knight, the Pips, and Sly the Family Stone. This documentary, directed by Questlove, highlights the Harlem Cultural Festival and showcases its significance to the Black community and Black culture at the time and even now. This festival was created to be a safe space for Black people to assemble and enjoy their music and culture. These protected havens for Black people are still valued and sacred today. There are festivals specifically for Black people that operate in the same vein as the Harlem Cultural Festival. Summer of Soul brings to life a rare event in time that cultivated Black culture.