In 1974, music producers, Hugh Masekela and Stewart Levine worked with the boxing promoter, Don King, to create a music festival in Africa to run concurrently with his championship boxing match he arranged with Muhammad Ali and George Foreman, aka "The Rumble in the Jungle," in Kinshasa, Zaire. However, due to an unforeseen delay due to Foreman injuring himself in training, it was decided that the music festival must still go on as scheduled. This film covers the preparation of that festival with both stage construction and the arrival of the participating musicians. When all is ready, the people of Zaire got to experience a musical event that Africa had never seen before with great African-American and local artists performing with verve and purpose, with the Godfather of Soul, James Brown, just the biggest star of this musical extravaganza.Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (firstname.lastname@example.org)
At the time of this writing, media is still mourning, marketing or doing into sordid details of the recently departed Michael Jackson. What most people know or should know is one of Jackson's most favorite performers was James Brown. Brown was clearly the headliner of this historic concert festival that took place in Zaire in 1974.
There were other performers that came over on the airplane to perform. Among them were the vocal group the Spinners, the instrumental group the Crusaders, B.B. King with his group and the Cuban Queen of Salsa, Celia Cruz. In fact, it's Cruz's group that's shown leading the impromptu jamming and singing though in fact, they're singing in Spanish.
We also get plenty of Don King, legal counsel Ian Strafford and Muhammed Ali. The fight is postponed due to a finger injury by George Foreman who's not shown at all. This film is best seen with WHEN WE WERE KINGS to provide better context. Ali's black pride and complaints about the white man are recorded but this doc should have been more about the music. But perhaps it's needed as Brown also makes his opinions known.
We get to see King going through his set list but only his hit "The Thrill is Gone" is showcased. Except for Brown, the rest of the performers also get just one song. There were a number of African performers but only Miriam Makeba out of them get one song.
Brown gets three songs and I thought the costume he was wearing a bit odd. He was into fusion jazz funk at this time which was not as commercial as his earlier hits. He also gets the last line to end the movie. "God d**n it, you are somebody" he says as he looks into the camera. Soul Brother Number One.
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