In this interview, Portia K. Maultsby offers significant insight into the aesthetics that informs the performances of soul artists featured in Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson’s film Summer of Soul. Maultsby discusses soul music and vital elements of soul aesthetics while drawing from her extensive knowledge from conducting research on Black music as a pioneering ethnomusicologist, contributing to music as an artist in her own right, and experiencing life in America as a Black woman in the late 1960s. Maultsby therefore offers a rare perspective on soul and explains how music played a pivotal role during the Civil Rights Movement and the Black Power movement. A central component of Maultsby’s analysis is that soul music exemplified what she calls an African-derived sound ideal, and that basic elements of the aesthetic framework were developed in churches. Thus, Maultsby highlights connections between Black sacred and secular music.

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