This tremendous educational documentary from the mid-1970’s examines the priceless contributions of African-Americans to musical heritage, so closely tied to their unique history in the United States.
From Africa upon slave ships captive immigrants brought with them melodies, cadences and rhythms that inarguably gave rise to music considered ‘modern’ today.
Beginning with the genius Louis Armstrong’s triumphant return to Ghana in the late 1950’s, we trace the evolution of music from West Africa to the Virginia colonies of the early 1600’s.
Over the next 400 years, as this distinct root of American culture takes hold, incredible clips of filmed performances by Mahalia Jackson, Josephine Baker, Bessie Smith, Count Basie, Billie Holiday, Coleman Hawkins, Roy Eldridge, and Duke Ellington illustrate the black experience.
Contemporary musicians such as Nina Simone, BB King, Cannonball Adderly (w/ Joe Zawinal – Mercy, Mercy, Mercy), and Sly & the Family Stone, along with a funky-ass filmed number from an as-yet-undocumented-on-the-internet off-Broadway production called “The Me Nobody Knew,” punctuate the memory of the past, the spontaneity of the moment, and determination for the future.