In 1974, the most celebrated American R&B acts of the time–James Brown, B.B. King, Miriam Makeba, The Fania All-Stars (featuring Celia Cruz), Bill Withers, The Spinners, The Crusaders, Sister Sledge– came together with the most renowned musical groups of Southern African for a 12-hour, three night concert held in Kinshasha, Zaire. The dream-child of Hugh Masekela and Stewart Levine, this music festival became a reality when they convinced boxing promoter Don King to combine the event with “The Rumble in the Jungle,” the epic fight between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman, previously chronicled in the Academy Award-winning documentary WHEN WE WERE KINGS.
SOUL POWER is a verité documentary, by Jeffrey Levy-Hinte
chronicling the legendary festival Zaire ’74, and made entirely
using the original 1974 footage.
The dream child of musician/producer and life long friends
Hugh Masekela and Stewart Levine (Grazing In The Grass, Don’t
Go Lose it Baby), this music festival became a reality when
they convinced boxing promoter Don King to combine the event
with “The Rumble in the Jungle,” the epic fight between Muhammad
Ali and George Foreman.
SOUL POWER highlights the experiences and performances of
such musical luminaries as James Brown, BB King, Bill Withers,
Celia Cruz, Miriam Makeba, The Spinners among a host of others.
These artists were inspired by this return to their African
roots, as well as the enthusiasm of the Zairian audience,
to give the performances of their lives. The concert has achieved
mythological significance as the definitive Africa(n)-American
musical event of the 20th Century.
This footage has remained vaulted for the past 35 years, unused,
unseen, until now. Filmed by some of the most celebrated documentary
cinematographers Albert Maysles (Gimme Shelter, Grey Gardens),
Paul Goldsmith (Rust Never Sleeps), Kevin Keating
(Harlan County USA), and Roderick Young (Wattstax).
A feast for the senses, the clothes, the gadgets, the culture
of Zaire, the colors, the music, it’s a challenge to sit still
and not boogie in the aisles.
Releases in other cities will follow.