Juneteenth - 6/19
7 Movies / June 19 at Noon
On June 19, 1865, Union Army General Gordon Granger proclaimed the end of slavery in Texas, the last of the Southern states in which slaves were liberated. In the 156 years since then, that moment’s remembrance has grown from a local celebration to a national commemoration recognized in 47 of the 50 states and parts of Mexico, with campaigns to make the date an official national holiday. Juneteenth celebrations recognize not just freedom but also African-American contributions to the arts.
TCM marks Juneteenth this year with a festival of seven films celebrating black music and musicians, starting at noon on Saturday, June 19 and running through midnight and consisting of five documentaries and two narrative features. TCM host Jacqueline Stewart will be joined by musician Jon Batiste, scholar Daphne Brooks and actresses Loretta Devine and Phylicia Rashad to commemorate the day and discuss the lineup.
Say Amen, Somebody (1982), named Best Documentary by the Boston Society of Film Critics, traces the history and development of gospel music, with a special focus on Willie Mae Ford Smith, the “Mother of Gospel Music,” “Father of Gospel Music” Thomas A. Dorsey and the singers they trained and mentored. Along with performances by Smith and Dorsey, the soundtrack features the voices of Mahalia Jackson, The O’Neal Twins, Delois Barrett Campbell and the Barrett Sisters, and Sallie Martin.
Jazz on a Summer’s Day (1959) has been hailed as the first jazz concert film. Over four days, Bert Stern filmed the performances at the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival, capturing acts encompassing jazz, rock, pop and gospel. Among the artists captured on film are Thelonious Monk, Dinah Washington, Big Maybelle, Chuck Berry, Louis Armstrong and Mahalia Jackson. The film was voted on to the National Film Registry in 1999.
Thelonious Monk: Straight, No Chaser (1988) draws on a treasure trove of archival material discovered in the 1980s and featuring the great bebop pianist and composer. Director Charlotte Zwerin, an expert on films about musicians and other artists, combined that footage with interviews and vintage recordings to create the definitive picture of the innovative musician. Included on the soundtrack are such classics as “’Round Midnight,” “Blue Monk” and “Ruby, My Dear.” The film joined the National Film Registry in 2017.
Jimi Hendrix (1973) follows one of the most influential guitarists in music history through concert performances over the course of three years, from his gig at London’s Marquee Club in 1967 through his final British performance at the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970. Contemporaries like Eric Clapton, Mick Jagger, Lou Reed and Little Richard discuss Hendrix’s influence. Performances include such classics as “Purple Haze, “Wild Thing” and “Machine Gun.”
Krush Groove (1985) presents a fictionalized version of the early days of Def Jam Recordings, with Blair Underwood, in his film debut, starring as Russell Walker, a fictionalized version of Def Jam co-founder Russell Simmons. The film features performances by LL Cool J, Sheila E., Beastie Boys and Run-D.M.C.
Also screening: Shake!: Otis at Monterey (1987), a short featuring Otis Redding’s performance at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival, and Sparkle (1976), a musical about the rise and fall of a girl group, starring Philip Michael Thomas, Irene Cara and Lonette McKee.