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Questlove’s ‘Summer of Soul’ Doc Inspires New Harlem Festival Set for 2023

Questlove’s Summer of Soul, the Oscar-winning documentary about the long-forgotten Harlem Cultural Festival, has inspired organizers to plan a new fest at the site of that 1969 event.

Scheduled for the summer of 2023, the Harlem Festival of Culture will center around a multi-day event at the now-Marcus Garvey Park; the site was called Mount Morris Park at the time of the original Harlem Cultural Festival.

According to Billboard, Ambassador Digital Magazine editor-in-chief Musa Jackson (who attended the original 1969 fest and featured in Summer of Soul), Nikoa Evans, and Yvonne McNair will serve as co-founders of the new festival.

Summer of Soul executive producer Joseph Patel said in a statement, “One of the things we hoped would happen with Summer of Soul is that it would open the door for other stories to be told, in all their forms, especially by people from Harlem. I couldn’t think of a better person to charge through than Musa, whose devoted roots in the community make him the perfect person to represent for Harlem.”

“Being rooted, watered, and grown in this village of Harlem, I believe HFC is our moment to show the world the vibrancy of today’s Harlem — the music, the food, the look, all of it,” Jackson added. “The original event was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience, one that I will never forget. 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.”

In the lead-up to the summer of 2023, organizers have planned a year-long series of events that includes film screenings, open mic nights, and musical performances at Marcus Garvey Park, as well as concerts spanning all genres at venues throughout the Harlem neighborhood.

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.”

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