Track of the Day: 'California Soul' by Marlena Shaw

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

A reader in Massachusetts writes, “As a displaced Angeleno in New England, this song takes me back to L.A. in every way.”

The video below presents a version of the song remixed by Diplo and illustrated with various scenes from Wattstax. What’s Wattstax?

It was a benefit concert organized by Stax Records to commemorate the seventh anniversary of the 1965 riots in the African-American community of Watts, Los Angeles. The concert took place at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on August 20, 1972. The concert’s performers included all of Stax’s prominent artists at the time. The genres of the songs performed included soul, gospel, blues, funk, and jazz. The concert was filmed by David L. Wolper’s film crew and was made into the 1973 film titled, Wattstax. The film was directed by Mel Stuart and nominated for a Golden Globe award for Best Documentary Film in 1974.

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