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Soul Power Sounds Spectacular

Jeffrey Levy-Hinte, the director of the new documentary “Soul Power,” was a film editor in 1995 for “ When We Were Kings ,” the Oscar-winning documentary directed by Leon Gast about the Rumble in the Jungle, the 1974 heavyweight world championship bout between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman in Kinshasa, the capital of Zaire (now Congo). “When We Were Kings” (Leon Gast) That fight had a huge sideshow: Zaire ’74, a three-day music festival of American soul alongside African music, headlined by James Brown and filmed by the same crew that was in Zaire for the fight.

I can’t wait to see this film, sounds spectacular.

Jeffrey Levy-Hinte, the director of the new documentary “Soul Power,” was a film editor in 1995 for “When We Were Kings,” the Oscar-winning documentary directed by Leon Gast about the Rumble in the Jungle, the 1974 heavyweight world championship bout between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman in Kinshasa, the capital of Zaire (now Congo).


“When We Were Kings” (Leon Gast)

That fight had a huge sideshow: Zaire ’74, a three-day music festival of American soul alongside African music, headlined by James Brown and filmed by the same crew that was in Zaire for the fight. “Soul Power” presents that festival from its precarious beginnings to the finale of a shirtless, sweating James Brown singing to an African audience, “Say It Loud — I’m Black and I’m Proud.”

The festival was a striking sociocultural moment. African-American and Latin musicians were being introduced to Africa and African musicians amid Mr. Ali’s black-power politics and a hodgepodge of visiting music, sports and literary figures. “There was a lot of deeper meaning about why people went there and what it evoked for them,” Mr. Levy-Hinte said.

Brown and other headliners, including B. B. King, Celia Cruz and the Fania All-Stars, the Spinners and Bill Withers, performed at their peak, flaunting bright-colored, sharp-collared, bell-bottomed 1970s outfits that are a fashion show themselves. Americans shared the lineup with African musicians, like the South African singer Miriam Makeba and the top Zairean groups T.P.O.K. Jazz (featuring the guitarist Franco) and Tabu Ley Rochereau.

[From ‘Soul Power,’ Documentary on the Zaire ’74 Music Festival – NYTimes.com]

but who knows when the film will ever be released:

His plan was to put out concert DVDs of the festival’s performances, a fairly straightforward process. Then “I committed the original sin of filmmaking,” he said. “I fell in love with the material instead of following this rational business path.

It cost about half a million dollars, including licensing the music, to make “Soul Power.” So far there’s no deal for a soundtrack album. The DVDs will be assembled “as soon as humanly possible,” Mr. Levy-Hinte said, though that may well be next year.

“The vast majority of the material has still not been used,” he added. “There may be a whole other movie in there.”


“20th Anniversaire, Vol. 2” (Franco & T.P.O.K. Jazz)


“1972/1973/1974” (Franco & T.P.O.K. Jazz)

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