Monday, June 14, 2010

Black Music Month #8: Wattstax

Yesterday, on TV One, I watched the two-documentary on Wattstax, and so today's topic will be on this legendary concert. Known as the black Woodstock, the Wattstax music festival took place on August 20, 1972 at the Los Angeles Coliseum. The concert was organized by the Memphis record label, Stax Records, and was conceived to commemorate the seventh anniversary of the Watts riots in L.A. With $1 tickets to make sure people would come, some of the acts that drew people in were Isaac Hayes (the concert was on his birthday), the Bar-Kays, the Staple Singers, The Emotions, Rufus Thomas, Johnnie Taylor, Carla Thomas and Luther Ingram. Other well-known figures at the festival was Jesse Jackson and Melvin Van Peebles.

In 1973, the documentary, which was done by Mel Stuart, covered the festival and the African-American community in Watts. Interviews with Richard Pryor and residents of Watts are in the film. The documentary was in the Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for Best Documentary Film in 1974.

Here are some videos from the festival:


Isaac Hayes - Shaft

Jesse Jackson - I Am Somebody

The Bar-Kays - Son of Shaft

The Staple Singers - Respect Yourself

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