To ride the Underground Railroad, you had to punch your own ticket. No one could punch it for you, and the decision to embark was always an exercise in self-determination. The state of Ohio had a vast Underground Railroad system, with routes and exit points along Lake Erie. Self-determination was a moving force of the Underground Railroad, and it is a spirit that never left Ohio. Nowhere is that more evident than in Cleveland, Ohio; and perhaps nowhere has it manifested more than in the city’s soul music scene. Soul City Cleveland is director Fanon Hill’s love letter to soul music, Ohio, and the elder musicians who most embody its spirit of self-determination. Featuring legendary but unheralded artists and figures such as Eugene Ross, Lou Ragland, “Crazy Marvin” Braxton, Vel Scott, Art Blakey, and George Hendricks, Soul City Cleveland tells the story of Ohio’s Black music culture and its role in Cleveland’s prolific Black political organizing, while taking the viewer on a music-filled journey from Cleveland to Japan, the U.K and beyond.
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