In 1974, the most celebrated American R&B acts of the time came together with the most renowned musical groups in Africa for a 12-hour, three-night long concert held in Kinshasa, 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 about this legendary music festival (dubbed “Zaire ‘74”), and it depicts the experiences and performances of such musical luminaries as James Brown, BB King, Bill Withers, Celia Cruz, among a host of others. At the peak of their talents and the height of their careers, 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.
Soul Power is crafted from the extensive “outtakes” that remained after making When We Were Kings, which documented the epic title fight, but relegated the music festival to a small, supporting role. The “outtakes” have remained vaulted for the past 34 years, until now. The film was ultimately edited down from over 125 hours worth of footage. Lensed primarily by celebrated cinematographers Albert Maysles, Paul Goldsmith, Kevin Keating and Roderick Young, Soul Power finally provides today’s audience the opportunity to experience this historic musical event in all of its magnificent, filmed glory.
|United States, 2009
|James Brown, Bill Withers, B.B. King, Mohammad Ali, Don King
|David Sonenberg, Leon Gast
|93 MINS, SECS