Don Cornelius: The Soul Of Soul Train

We’ll remember the soul of Soul Train.

A screen capture of Don Cornelius on the show Soul Train (YouTube)

A screen capture of Don Cornelius on the show Soul Train (YouTube)

In October, 1971, something new hit the television screens of America.  Chicago host Don Cornelius stepped in front of live cameras and introduced “Soul Train”.  If it looked like “American Bandstand,” that was no accident.

But Soul Train put front and center a world Americans had never seen before on a regular national television show.  Black artists, black musicians, black dancers, black style, black moves.  An exuberant, explosive black pop culture.  This week, Don Cornelius died, at his own hand apparently.  And we’re looking back.

This hour, On Point: the soul of Soul Train.

-Tom Ashbrook



Renee Graham, music and pop culture critic.

Danyel Smith, Editor-in-Chief of Billboard Magazine.

From Tom’s Reading List

Rolling Stone “The death of Don Cornelius, the creator of the long-running television series Soul Train, has rattled fans of R&B, soul and dance music around the world. The news of Cornelius’ apparent suicide is especially troubling for musicians who either appeared on the show or were introduced to many of their favorite artists while watching it each week as kids.”

Time “A photographic look at the seminal dance program and its late creator.”

Tampa Bay Times “When I watched Soul Train host Don Cornelius back in the 1970s, I didn’t see a pro-black entrepreneur who would become the African-American Dick Clark.”

Video: Don Cornelius Greatest Hits

This videos shows some of Don Cornelius’s greatest moments from his hit show Soul Train.

Video: James Brown Plays Soul Train

Watch “Soul Brother Number One” James Brown play a set on Soul Train.

Video: Stevie Wonder On Soul Train 1971

Stevie Wonder plays “Superstition” on a classic episode of Soul Train.

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