I was doing some catching up on the Strut recently and found this amazing archive of Soul!, a PBS music and interview show in New York from the late ’60s and early ’70s:

This entertainment-variety-talk show was not only a vehicle to promote African-American artistry, community and culture, but also a platform for political expression and the fight for social justice. It showcased classic live musical performances from funk, soul, jazz, and world musicians, and had in-depth, extraordinary interviews with political, sports, literary figures and more. It was the first program on WNET to be recorded with the then-new technology of videotape, and most of the shows were recorded in real-time—not live, but unedited.

Soul ran from 1968 to 1973.

This is a goldmine of incredible performance footage and musical history. You can spend days watching this stuff. It’s an absolute treasure.

The shows include performances by the Nite-Liters, Earth, Wind and Fire, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Ashford and Simpson, Max Roach, and much more.

The ever-knowledgeable Oliver Wang provides some additional context:

The history of the show – and its host – is really, really fascinating. Not only are the performances just incredible but so were the interviews considering the time and place they were happening. Haizlip was an openly gay Black intellectual and Wald managed to find the episode where he’s interviewing Louis Farrakhan – half the audience seemed to be from the NOI – and Haizlip asks him where gays fit into the Nation’s overall mission and membership. It was a fascinating moment, to say the least, especially circa 1970.

I have been watching and re-watching the Latin Soul episode from November 15, 1972 hosted by Felipe Luciano and featuring performances by Tito Puente, Willie Colón and their respective bands. You can watch the full episode below, or for better navigation, you can go to NY’s THIRTEEN PBS site, and follow along with the chapter index they have below the video.

I get chills listening to a young Héctor Lavoe singing “Aguanile” with Willie Colón y Su Orquesta. It’s breathtaking. (That performance begins at the 35:16 mark, or chapter 10, if you go to the navigation on the THIRTEEN site).

Watch the whole episode, tho. Luciano breaks down the history of the New York latin music scene and paints a particularly vivid and colorful portrait of New York in that era.

(If you don’t see the video below, there might be a Flash compatibility issue or some other technical glitch with the embed. Just go to the THIRTEEN site. You can watch it from there.)

The whole archive is like this. It will melt your face. Please check it out.