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Toward the Sun

Jazz and soul bloom up south at midcentury

Issue 115, Winter 2021

Self-portrait, African Jazz-Art Society & Studios (AJASS), Harlem, c. 1964.

To read “Keeper of the Images,” Jasmine Sanders’s essay accompanying these photographs, click here


Stevie Wonder headlines Human Kindness Day at the National Mall, Washington, D.C., 1975

Quincy Jones, c. 1972.

Naturally ’68 photo shoot, featuring Grandassa Models at the Apollo Theater, Harlem.

Max Roach in Harlem, c. 1962.

Nomsa Brath on the cover of Lou Donaldson, The Natural Soul, 1962.

Sikolo Brathwaite wearing headpiece designed by Carolee Prince, c. 1968.

Sister Sledge at Brathwaite’s studio, c. 1978.

The Jackson brothers aboard a boat from Gorée Island, Senegal, c. 1974.

Nina Simone on stage during a concert at the Beacon Theater in New York City, c. 1973.

Marvin Gaye, c. 1974.

All photos courtesy the Kwame Brathwaite Archive. Brathwaite’s work is on view through January 16 at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Kwame Brathwaite

Kwame Brathwaite, his older brother, Elombe Brath, and the African Jazz-Art Society and Studios (AJASS) they created, popularized the phrase “Black Is Beautiful” in the late ’50s and early ’60s inspired in part by the writings of Marcus Garvey. By the ’70s, Brathwaite was one of the country’s top concert photographers, shaping the images of public figures such as Stevie Wonder, Bob Marley, James Brown, and Muhammad Ali. Brathwaite is currently the subject of a major touring exhibition, Black Is Beautiful: The Photography of Kwame Brathwaite. His work has appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Times, Vogue, the Financial Times, New York Magazine, Aperture, and more. He lives and works in Manhattan.