Released today (July 2) in theaters by Searchlight Pictures and streaming on Hulu, Summer of Soul marks the directorial debut of Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson. It was culled from festival footage filmed over a six-week period in summer 1969, a year after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King. The site was just 100 miles south of Woodstock: New York’s Mount Morris Park (now Marcus Garvey Park). Seen by a relative few, the 47 reels of footage were summarily shelved until Questlove learned the mystical festival was indeed real from producers David Dinerstein, Robert Fyvolent and Joseph Patel.Questlove’s seamless direction transports viewers back to an era that parallels what’s happening now: civil rights unrest, Black empowerment and Black culture’s impactful influence. In addition to the aforementioned stars, Summer of Soul brims with mesmerizing, never-seen performances by The 5th Dimension, B.B. King, Gladys Knight & the Pips and others. Several of the performers and music fans who attended the festival provide insightful color commentary.Summer of Soul (… Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) won both the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival. For Questlove, however, the end goal was to bring back — in his words — the “Black joy” the culture was robbed of some 50 years ago. “This is my chance,” he tells Billboard, “to restore history.”How did the festival footage come to your attention?When I was at the Soul Train Café in Japan years ago, I unknowingly saw two minutes of the Sly and the Family Stone performance on monitors inside the restaurant. But it was sort of a far-away shot and I couldn’t see the faces in the crowd. So I thought it was a film clip of Sly and the group performing somewhere in Europe.Backstage at The Tonight Show 20 years later, I’m told about this mythical festival featuring Sly, Nina Simone, Stevie Wonder and more. I didn’t think it was real — because there’s no way you’re going to tell me that Nina, Stevie and Sly appeared together at a festival and no one knew or cared about it. Then I thought there must be some bad footage, as with old eight millimeter films. However, when I was shown the footage and heard the sound, it was all perfect. It’s what you’ll see when you watch the film. We did almost nothing to the sound; it was just that pristine.What is the backstory behind the film’s five-decade absence?The sad truth is that Black erasure is real. It’s very easy to just dismiss our stories. When Prince released his autobiography, he talked about his dad taking him to Woodstock and how much that meant to him as an 11-year-old; what a paradigm shift it was. The whole time I’m watching this footage, I’m thinking, “OK, I made it here. But what about the other six billion then-future musicians that could have been changed by this movie?” We lost a moment and an opportunity. I made every excuse in the world for that because, again, I have faith in mankind that no one would be that cruel to deny history like that.Beyond the sound quality, I thought maybe music clearances were the issue. The last Hail Mary throw for [the film’s original director] Hal Tulchin was “Hey, why not just call it Black Woodstock?” That way people would know that this was the Black version of the successful Woodstock festival. It was, “Still, we’re not interested.”I don’t know what’s in people’s minds. But oftentimes we’re dealing with a system that’s more hell bent on the monetary aspect as opposed to the creative aspect. People tend to think that unless it’s hitting you over the head and can appeal to a wide range of people then it might not be worth exploring. Even now people make decisions based on what Middle America thinks without giving a thought to there being other people in the country. That’s why this is much more than just a movie to me. This is my chance to restore history.Once you saw all the footage, what was most surprising?I learned that Jimi Hendrix tried to get on the festival lineup. But he got a no. It’s unfortunate, because Jimi was actually experiencing a transformative period in his life to where he was tired of being the show pony; the exotic, wild Black guy that set his guitar on fire. He wanted to get away from the antics that impressed rock America and go back to his blues roots. So Jimi decided to do a bunch of nighttime gigs after the festival, performing with Freddie King for three weeks in Harlem.During the last week of the festival, the production people told Tulchin that they couldn’t shoot the whole six weeks because they had another commitment. So the lineup was adjusted to put all the heavy hitters into the first five weeks. Then during the last week, they staged a Harlem pageant featuring local singers. Looking at that list, I realized this was the first performance of an unknown 17-year-old named Luther Vandross. I unearthed a lot, which was the hardest thing: having to leave a lot on the floor.Which telling moments in the film stand out for you and why?Probably the most telling moment for me was watching David Ruffin’s performance of “My Girl.” It’s August and he’s wearing a wool tuxedo and a coat. He had to be uncomfortable in all that heat. But back then it was like you had to be professional first before, being happy. The opposite of that is Sly and the Family Stone.The most revolutionary thing about their performance, especially when you watch the audience reactions, is the revelation that this is the first time that Black people are watching musicians onstage who are wearing their regular clothes. “Wait, they don’t have a suit on. Wait, what’s wrong with this?” Forget there’s a woman playing trumpet and a white drummer in a Black band. Wearing their regular clothes was such a mind-blowing thing because being comfortable was never in the narrative of Black creativity or Black existence. There’s a lot to unpack with that.
Ticketing Platform Dice Secures $122M in New Funding Round
The music discovery and events app works with over 3,600 venues, festivals and promoters globally and has sold tickets to fans in nearly 180 countries. Founded in 2014, its mission is to remedy the opaque world of ticketing with its transparent, fan-first model. The technology includes upfront pricing and features such as refunds on sold-out shows and a “waitlist” that helps fans…
The music discovery and events app works with over 3,600 venues, festivals and promoters globally and has sold tickets to fans in nearly 180 countries. Founded in 2014, its mission is to remedy the opaque world of ticketing with its transparent, fan-first model. The technology includes upfront pricing and features such as refunds on sold-out shows and a “waitlist” that helps fans get into in-demand shows and ensures venues are at capacity to increase revenue. Dice also combats for-profit resellers by preventing secondary resale of tickets. Dice’s business model also includes a livestreaming service that offers artists, venues and promoters support with logistics, marketing, production, distribution, merch and more.With the additional funding, Dice plans to significantly grow the company by expanding its reach to artists, fans and venues, while hiring new team members, adding to its livestream offering and launching an ambitious artist development program that will see the platform work directly with even more artists on their live strategy. “Dice is rewiring the live experiences industry. We have proven that if you treat fans well, they go out more,” said Dice founder and CEO Phil Hutcheon in a release. “We’re overhauling an unfair, inefficient system by pioneering a transparent, data-led, fan-first approach – building a scalable ecosystem that helps artists, promoters and venues thrive. To have SoftBank as a partner enables us to expand into every market.” “The concert business is a tangled mess of archaic tools and taxing ‘industry standards’ where artists are paid last. Venues shell out for marketing and are beholden to ticket conglomerates. Fans have to hunt for shows and regularly buy overpriced tickets from secondary markets or scalpers. This doesn’t make sense!” said Fadell in a release. “Dice re-engineers the entire live industry, not just a part of it: Venues are connected to fans and artists. Artists get transparency, access and control. Fans easily discover local shows and global live streams, and buy scalper-safe tickets with a single click. I’m ecstatic to be joining the Dice board and to be part of another entertainment revolution.”
Seventeen Announces Ninth EP ‘Attacca’
Attacca comes just five months after Seventeen’s eighth EP Your Choice, which was released on June 18 via Pledis Entertainment. Your Choice earned Seventeen their first No. 1 effort on the Top Album Sales chart (which is also the third overall effort for a K-pop act), as the mini-album sold 20,500 copies in the U.S. in the week ending June 24,…
Attacca comes just five months after Seventeen’s eighth EP Your Choice, which was released on June 18 via Pledis Entertainment. Your Choice earned Seventeen their first No. 1 effort on the Top Album Sales chart (which is also the third overall effort for a K-pop act), as the mini-album sold 20,500 copies in the U.S. in the week ending June 24, according to MRC Data — the act’s best sales week yet. Your Choice also arrived at No. 15 on the Billboard 200 all-genre albums tally, their first entry on the chart.”We’re just extremely grateful. Like seeing that, we felt like [having our work] paid off is an understatement. And hopefully, we can reach out to more and more CARATs [Seventeen’s fandom name] with every comeback,” Vernon told Billboard in an interview.See the official announcement below and pre-order Attacca here.
Camila Cabello Opens Latin Billboard Music Awards, Calls For End To Tyranny In Cuba
Even more vital, though, was that Cabello (who is managed by Roger Gold and signed to Epic Records) used the opportunity to deliver a message. After calling for an end to tyranny in Cuba, the artist punched one fist in the air as she shouted “patria y vida.” The phrase translates to “country and life,”…
Even more vital, though, was that Cabello (who is managed by Roger Gold and signed to Epic Records) used the opportunity to deliver a message. After calling for an end to tyranny in Cuba, the artist punched one fist in the air as she shouted “patria y vida.” The phrase translates to “country and life,” a new take on Cuba’s official slogan of “country or death.”The phrase was popularized by singers Yotuel, Gente de Zona, Descemer Bueno and Maykel Osorbo this February when the artists released “Patria y Vida,” a single that was met with harsh criticism from Cuba’s Communist Party. It now has over eight million YouTube views — and after such a high-profile shoutout from an artist like Cabello, that number is likely to soar.