Hi everyone! I hope your Sunday is going well! Fellow blogger and friend Tracy (T. Wayne) from A Joyful Process shares his favorite memories from the once popular T.V. program, Soul Train. Tomorrow marks the first day of Black History Month here in the U.S. The month honors the African American community, along with their contributions to society. Tracy usually blogs about music, sports and life in Maryland. You can take a look/follow his blog here.
Black History Month & Soul Train Memories
By Tracy Smith
Four years ago, on the first day of Black History month, we lost a man who helped create a part of that history.
Don Cornelius, of the deep baritone voice, who wished generations of youth “love, peace and SOUL!” passed away on February 1, 2012. The 75-year-old was an apparent suicide victim. I couldn’t believe he was that old! When I was younger, watching Soul Train, the history-making, ground-breaking show he created, I thought he was the coolest old man I knew! Of course, part of the show’s appeal was he was or at least seemed cool. Nevermind the circumstances of how he died, the man was cool and remained cool to me.
Cornelius was a visionary who created, supported and sold a show that allowed blacks to see a different side of themselves. When the show moved from Chicago to Los Angeles, the Train began to take off. During the 70’s and 80’s, Soul Train became appointment television for me and my sister. We were among the many who had to finish chores on Saturdays so we could spend that one uninterrupted hour in front of the TV to watch the show.
Back in those days, Soul Train aired twice on Saturdays—early in the afternoon on the Baltimore station and later in the day on the Washington D.C. station (if memory serves, they were WBAL-TV and WTTG-TV respectively). You can bet your last money we watched both airings as if we hadn’t seen the show at all. Many have written and said wonderful things about the musicians and fashions…and of course the Soul Train line. I can add my voice to the chorus. It was nothing for us to sing and dance along as if we were on the show. We tried helping some of the more helpless contestants with the scramble board, even though they couldn’t hear a word we said.
My sister and I nicknamed our favorite dancers, as if they were people we knew in the neighborhood. Soul Train was a show you couldn’t help but get involved in, even if you were too young and far away to be one of the actual Soul Train dancers. Another thing Soul Train gave me, or at least embellished for me, was my love of R&B music. I couldn’t wait to see the acts on the show and sing (or try to sing), along with the latest and greatest tunes and performers of the day. And of course, trying to attempt to do those moves. Soul Train gave us all a platform to learn, be educated and enjoy African-American music. It may have started out as a “for us, by us.” However, by the end of its run, the show expanded its audience and reach. It became a nationwide treasure. I hope Mr. Cornelius is up in heaven right now preparing another episode of Soul Train. With the amount of talent around him to choose from, those would be some awesome, awesome episodes.
Two wonderful articles, (among the many that were written after Mr. Cornelius’s death) can be found on CNN and The Grio. Do take the time to look them up and appreciate the man, the show and the wonderful memories. And what would a post about Soul Train be without a sample of the many introductions we knew and loved throughout the years the show ran on the airwaves? (Please note: the video runs over twenty minutes, so if you’re going to watch the whole thing, set aside some time).