Soul America – 17 October 2020 – 17/10/2020 – Saturday – BBC Two
Say It Loud
Soul America Series 1 Episode 2 of 3
In the late 60s and early 70s, black America went to war. Inequality, poverty and racism fanned the flames of radical black politics and a harder soul sound: Isaac Hayes, James Brown and the Whitfield-and-Strong-era Temptations. It was the best of soul, it was the worst of times.
1967 was no summer of love for black America. The Detroit riot was one of 159 uprisings across America. When Martin Luther King was murdered the following year in America’s other soul city, Memphis, a tipping point was reached. America burned while James Brown wrote Say It Loud, risking it all to speak out. Stax Records went from being a label built around an integrated house band to become a black-centric business spearheaded by Isaac Hayes’s expansive, flamboyant soul symphonies.
Meanwhile, in Detroit, The Temptations tackled socially aware subjects like the Detroit riot and absent fathers, while Marvin Gaye conceived the epic What’s Going On. This episode also looks at the revolution of black heroes in cinema, inaugurated by Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song, a film that led to the blaxploitation genre – a creative sideline for civil rights soul heroes like Isaac Hayes (Shaft) and Curtis Mayfield (Superfly). The film culminates with the Wattstax festival, 1972’s black Woodstock – a truly redemptive and soulful image of the black inner city.
Narrated by Carleen Anderson with contributions from Mavis Staples, David Porter, Al Bell, Otis Williams, Barrett Strong, Fred Wesley, Mary Wilson, Craig McMullen, Willie Hall and William Bell. Expert analysis from Mark Anthony Neal, Nelson George and Emily J Lordi.
About Soul America
This show is broadcast on BBC Four, also known as the British Broadcasting Corporation.
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