Musically Speaking – Wattstax

Please join us for MUSICALLY SPEAKING – A new series of music-themed movies and documentaries on Mondays, curated and hosted by DJ Soul Sister.

by Mel Stuart

Wattstax, also known as “Black Woodstock,” is Mel Stuart’s documentary of the epochal 1972 concert hosted by Stax Records at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, which drew over 100,000 people. Featuring incendiary performances by Isaac Hayes, Albert King, Rufus and Carla Thomas, the Staple Singers, the Emotions, the Bar-Kays, and other greats of soul, R&B, and gospel— plus biting humor from a then little-known Richard Pryor — Wattstax is more than a concert film. It also captures a heady moment in mid-1970s, “black-is-beautiful” African-American culture, when Los Angeles’ black community came together just seven years after the Watts riots to celebrate its survival and a renewed hope in its future. Nominated for a 1974 Golden Globe for Best Documentary. Despite widespread critical acclaim and Pryor’s calling it “a soulful expression of the living word,” Wattstax was considered “too racy, political, and black” to receive wide theatrical release or a television broadcast until only a few years ago. (98 minutes, 1973)

Co-presented by DJ Soul Sister, Press Street, Charitable Film Network, Cafe Istanbul, and WWOZ FM.  For more information contact