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(Credit: Ajay Suresh)

Music

The 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival to be revived in 2023

The Harlem Cultural Festival, the setting of Questlove’s celebrated documentary Summer Of Soul, is getting a revival. The event will make its grand return as The Harlem Festival of Culture in 2023. 

Per a report in BillboardThe Harlem Festival of Culture will now be an annual affair starting next summer. It will be held in Marcus Garvey Park, the same site where the original 1969 festival was hosted, which is the topic of Questlove’s documentary. However, back then, it was called Mount Morris Park before receiving its name change in 1973. 

Mirroring the 1969 event, the new iteration is a multi-day outdoor celebration of African American culture, including music, beauty, pride and fashion.

In what is to be a bumper occasion, The Harlem Festival of Culture will mark the start of a yearlong series of events on April 15th with a Harlem Jones open mic evening hosted at the Museum of the City of New York. Added to the excitement, live performances will be held in Marcus Garvey Park in May, but details are yet to be announced. 

The revival of the festival was inspired by the resounding success of Questlove‘s 2021 documentary Summer of Soul. This year, it won the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature and the Grammy for Best Music Film, which well and truly put the 1969 Festival on the map. Reflecting just how celebrated it was, it took home the Grand Jury prize at Sundance Film Festival.

Musa Jackson, one of the attendees at the 1969 edition, who features in the documentary, is the co-founder of the Harlem Festival of Culture, alongside Nikoa Evans and Yvonne McNair. She explained in a statement: “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.”

Adding: “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”.

The Harlem Festival of Culture is shaping up to be one of the hottest events in New York, and we cannot wait.

Watch the trailer for Summer Of Soul below.

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