Nina Simone at the 1969 Harlem Festival

Today is the legendary Nina Simone’s birthday! Born on this day in 1933, what does “The High Priestess of Soul” and Harlem Arts Festival have in common? The historical 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival!

A little known fact, the Harlem Cultural Festival took place in Marcus Garvey Park during the summer of 1969, only months apart from the inaugural Woodstock concert. Known as Black Woodstock, artists like Nina Simone, Stevie Wonder, Sly and the Family Stone, B.B. King, The Staple Singers, Mahalia Jackson, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Dizzy Gillespie, Max Roach and many more performed in the park’s amphitheater.

As predecessor to the Harlem Arts Festival, HAF is not shy about spreading the word that this amazing event took place in Harlem on the same ground that our festival now calls home!

Filmed by a professional crew, Nina Simone’s performance (released in 2005) is the only commercially available footage from the concert.

Check out these clips from her outstanding performance at the Harlem Festival in 1969! And see the next wave of Harlem artists at our Gala on March 13, 2014.

photo courtesy of Bochud

sourced from: Arthur Magazine

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