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Syl Johnson: Any Way the Wind Blows

Syl Johnson: Any Way the Wind Blows


Syl Johnson: Any Way The Wind Blows is a portrait of an overlooked yet hugely influential African-American musician whose 60-year career spanned every genre of Black music from the Blues, to Soul, to Funk, to Hip Hop. In spite of enjoying success in Chicago in the 1960s with songs like “Come On Sock It To Me” and “Is It Because I’m Black,” and recording with the same band and producer as Al Green at Hi Records in Memphis in the ‘70s, Syl’s music remained largely unknown and his career was seemingly over by the ‘80s. With the advent of Hip Hop, his 1967 song “Different Strokes” became extremely popular among DJs and producers and was sampled by artists including Run-DMC, Public Enemy, NWA, the Beastie Boys, the Wu-Tang Clan, and Jay Z and Kanye West. The release of a comprehensive boxed set on the Numero Group record label in 2010 further revived his career and brought Syl Johnson his first Grammy nomination. With fiery concert footage from then and now, a funky, energetic soundtrack, and an original score by Yo La TengoAny Way The Wind Blows shows how talent and perseverance can prevail in the end. Featuring interviews with RZA (the Wu-Tang Clan), Prince Paul (De La Soul), Peanut Butter Wolf (Stones Throw Records), Jazzy Jay (Afrika Bambaataa’s Soulsonic Force), Jonathan Lethem (writer), Louis “Breakbeat Lou” Flores (Ultimate Breaks & Beats), Otis Clay (Hi Records artist) and Syleena Johnson (singer & star of TV One’s R&B Divas: Atlanta). More about the film here.

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Best Documentary - 2016 Sidewalk Film Festival
Saatchi & Saatchi Nothing Is Impossible Achievement In Film Award of 2016 Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival
Gibson Music Films/Music City Grand Jury Prize of 2016 Nashville Film Festival
Best Documentary Feature Audience Award Winner of 2016 San Francisco Indie Festival
Best Documentary Feature Audience Award Winner of 2015 Indie Memphis


"Blame Al Green. If not for the unstoppable sex appeal of Mr. Let's Stay Together, Hi Records would have made singer Syl Johnson a star instead. Or so says he in Syl Johnson: Any Way the Wind Blows, Rob Hatch-Miller's very enjoyable portrait of a singer who, though not quite obscure, wasn't nearly as successful as he might have been. Soul fans will eat it up, and Johnson's surprising hip-hop legacy will make the doc doubly attractive." - The Hollywood Reporter

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Director/Producer/ Cinematographer: Robert Hatch-Miller
Producers: Puloma Basu, Michael Slaboch
Editor/Producer: Joaquin Perez
Music: Yo Lo Tengo
2015, USA, 84 min, in English

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