Journey Through American Music Episode 6: Heart of Soul

2008 • 0h 46m

Episode 6 of a musical journey through the origins of American music presented by Morgan Freeman. Each episode mixes documentary and performance whilst retracing the roots of American music and features performances at Montreux from such legendary artists as Muddy Waters, Ray Charles, Miles Davis, Al Green, Carlos Santana, and Eric Clapton.

In the 1960s, sweet soul music topped pop charts all around the world. Oscar-winning actor Morgan Freeman was born in Memphis, one of the main centers of soul. He begins this history of the 60s and 70s soul by outlining the achievements of Berry Gordy at Motown. We see footage of The Supremes and a clip featuring Motown labelmate, Gladys Knight. We then return to Memphis to celebrate Stax Records via Booker T & the MGs, who storm through Green Onions. The band backed Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Wilson Pickett, Eddie Floyd, etc, during their years at Stax. Another major figure at Stax was Isaac Hayes. Here we see him delivering the Oscar-winning "Theme From Shaft." Trumpeter Wayne Jackson shares personal experiences of working at Stax with Isaac and many others.

Across Memphis at Hi Records, Al Green became the last great soul singer of the era. Here he performs "Take Me To The River." Other major legendary contributors to the story of soul who are given their due include Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, and James Brown. In the 1990s, neo-soul singers such as Jill Scott and Angie Stone began to look back to these glory days. Another such singer, Leela James, closes this musical journey with a version of Sam Cooke’s classic "A Change Is Gonna Come." Music critics Nelson George and Rob Bowman share their expert knowledge throughout while musicians Sweet Honey In The Rock and Nona Hendryx, describe what soul meant to them as African-Americans in an era rife with racial tension.