By: Geoffrey Dunbar
This multi-faceted operation run by Neil Shoemaker is noted for its immersive musical events that dive deep into the black cultural music worlds of jazz, hip-hop and that delicious, dreamy 1960s Harlem/Detroit sound broadly referred to as Motown.
Neil hires only Harlem residents to perform and conduct Harlem-centric walking tours.
We were sitting outside his storefront in the dappled shade of boulevard trees when he told me he realized that the public is thirsty for authentic experiences presented through the eyes of those who have been raised in and live in Harlem.
His goal is to respect the privacy of those who live and work in Harlem, while exposing visitors to that which makes Harlem important and special. Because of that sensitivity, he said, we receive more support from grassroots Harlem than any other ‘cultural company’ in the community.
So, Shoemaker produces “Harlem Soul Music Afternoons” during which some of Harlem’s fine soul singers perform iconic Motown era songs by Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Sam Cook, Diana Ross, the Ojay’s and well, the list is long. Through live music and video clips, the civil rights history and much else that make Harlem’s political life important of the surrounding area is introduced.
Events take place irregularly at the Harlem Heritage Tourism and Cultural Center between West 115th & 116th Streets. 2 and 3 trains arrive directly to this location.