2022 Oscars: Questlove joins class at alma mater CAPA to share lessons from ‘Summer of Soul’, offer advice

PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts, affectionately known as CAPA, has no shortage of notable alumni. From R&B group Boyz II Men to singer Jazmine Sullivan, many now famous people walked through the halls like students.

However, the list isn’t complete without two alumni turned hip-hop royalty: CAPA is where Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter and Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson formed The Roots.

Knowing this, the excitement was palpable when CAPA students found out that Questlove was coming to visit the classroom for a virtual tour.

The students finished watching his directorial debut, “Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)”, and took a lesson from a curriculum based on the documentary.

The film revolves around the largely forgotten Harlem Cultural Festival, filmed in the summer of 1969 at Marcus Garvey Park (formerly Mount Morris Park) in Harlem, New York. weeks.

Beginning his conversation with CAPA students, the Grammy-winning drummer and DJ recounted the origins of The Roots, which took place at the school more than 30 years ago.

“The Roots kind of started out with a lie,” Questlove told the students with a chuckle. “There was a main choir that I fell head over heels in love with. I caught myself telling a lie like, ‘Yeah, I have a rap group. She says, ‘Rap group with who?’ And I was like, ‘him!’ And ran to Tariq and said, “Whatever you do, if anyone asks, we’re a rap group now.” And Tariq said, ‘OK,’ and so The Roots was literally born.”

Storytellers Spotlight: Questlove Calls Oscar Nominee ‘Summer of Soul’ a Movie His Younger Self Wanted to See

Here’s an excerpt from Questlove’s Q&A with CAPA students.

The transcript has been edited for clarity.

Marcel, major in creative writing: As artists and creatives, we are constantly reminded that it will be difficult to pursue a career. What advice would you give young artists?

questlove: You have to be really committed and in love with your art to the point that you are willing to sacrifice for it. I find it very ironic that as a filmmaker everything I imagined is now happening to me. Even though I’ve made 17 records — I’m part of the people who brought you “Hamilton” — my resume was pretty cool. But I find it weird that as a 51-year-old I think, “What would I say to my 19-year-old self a year after graduating CAPA? That your magic doesn’t start blooming until three decades from now.”

Sophia, dance major: What lessons do you want the audience to take with them? [Summer of Soul]†

questlove: I’m glad you asked that question. Because I too am looking for what the takeaway is. And the takeaway, for me, is that stories matter. When we outline what the last half of the sixties was like, when you think about hippies and the fashion and all that stuff, Woodstock is your reference. This movie wasn’t supposed to tell that story. This should be an instructive lesson for listening to people who are marginalized and not necessarily sitting at the table. That’s what I want people to distract from — that this festival was organized as a way to heal people from pain. And this film was made to shine a light on a marginalized people. Hopefully there will be more after this.

MORE: The Revolution That Was Never Televised Is Finally Seen in ‘Summer of Soul’

Students also shared their take-aways from ‘Summer of Soul’:

Sophie, visual arts major: I think it was super cool to see this representation that was hidden from everyone … and to be able to understand the cultural impact it really had on the time and place, even though we don’t talk about it, mainly because it was not aimed at white. I think it was really interesting to get to that point of view and see it really come to fruition.

Marcel, major in creative writing: lack of people forever – but especially during this period. We are surrounded by such antagonism that they used this festival to release all this pent up pressure and tension. The Harlem Renaissance was an outlet for black oppression. This festival was an outlet for the black liberation.

Raymond, singer: Music and black people just like mixing. What makes me happy is that it was a huge music festival. It was the only thing you could count on to bring people together, especially with everything that was going on: not just problems outside the movement with the murders or the Vietnam War, but also in the civil rights movement. There were nonviolent groups and violent groups, and they clashed with each other because they didn’t know the right way to fight for freedom. So instead of just focusing on that, we got together for music. Instead of deciding whether to fight or not, we wanted to have a little fun.

After the captivating conversation, Questlove left the class of young creatives with a little piece of advice: “Live as long as you can in your heart. The thing that brought you to music or brought you to dance or brought you to writing, dreaming – – all those things are super important. Don’t fall back on something safe. Follow your instinct and keep your passion as long as you can.”

“Summer of Soul” is the first official project under the Onyx Collective brand for creators of color and underrepresented creatives. It is now streaming on Hulu and available on DVD.

Learn more about Journeys in Film’s Summer of Soul curriculum here

FULL LIST: Oscar nominations for 2022

Mark your calendar: March 27 is Oscar Sunday. The special broadcast of “On The Red Carpet” will begin at 1:00 PM ET/10 AM PT and will run all day leading up to the 94th Academy Awards ceremony. After the final award is presented, stick with “On The Red Carpet” for ongoing coverage. Follow @OnTheRedCarpet on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok for all your Oscar news and information. Click here to download our CTV apps to watch “On The Red Carpet” wherever you stream.

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