Berklee hosts a free screening of Under African Skies, the Joe Berlinger-directed documentary chronicling the creation and lasting influence of Paul Simon's Graceland, commemorating the 25th anniversary of the groundbreaking album. The screening, presented by Bakithi Kumalo, a featured bassist on the album, takes place on Friday, June 8, from 2-4 p.m., at the Berklee Performance Center, located at 136 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston.
The story of the making of Graceland, and the controversy created when Simon went to South Africa to record with local artists, is told in Under African Skies, the new full-length documentary from two-time Emmy and Peabody Award winning filmmaker Joe Berlinger.
Under African Skies travels with Paul Simon back to South Africa 25 years after his first visit. Simon revisits the making of the record, surveying from the vantage of history the turbulence and controversy surrounding the album's genesis. His artistic decision to collaborate with African musicians created a new world musical fusion, combining American and African musical idioms while igniting an intense political crossfire, with Paul Simon accused of breaking the UN cultural boycott of South Africa designed to end the apartheid regime.
The universal appeal of the music of Graceland proved more powerful and enduring than the political hotbed attending its creation. In 1986, the album sold 14 million copies worldwide, and received universal praise from critics around the globe. Simon and the members of Ladysmith Black Mambazo performed on Saturday Night Live and appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone.
By January of 1987, "You Can Call Me Al" was everywhere and Graceland won Album of the Year at the Grammy Awards in 1987. Then, in an unprecedented carryover, the album garnered the Grammy for Song of the Year with its title track in 1988. The album generated three hit singles and kept Paul Simon and the Graceland tour on the road for five years.