Saturday, July 20

A Tribute to the Late Great Soul Train Creator Don Cornelius

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For music lovers all across this country, and in particular African Americans,  they all took a ride on the great train with the great conductor –  Don Cornelius. Smoke stacks blazin, ‘wheels creepin’ and the tracks-a- thumpin’ as Don steered us all through the racial divides that separated a nation of people that wanted to do one thing—dance.

At the time, no one actually knew, or cared about the destination of the great train except it was cool to be onboard. And in the 1970’s, cool was in and being in was cool. Like a grizzly to an upstream king salmon, black folks now had something to sink their teeth into and Don knew it. He knew that if the show could hold its luster, it would become an all-out runaway locomotive destined for national or even international success.  A stylized dance television show, with its primary focus centered on the African American culture, Soul train would soon become the longest running, and first run syndicated television show in our nation’s history.

 Reminiscent to Dr. King, Soul train visionary, Don Cornelius, also had a dream, to unite his people and have a good time doing it. Armed with a determination, Don set his sights high enough to reshape how African Americans and the rest of America communicated; through song and dance. Sporting an afro, glasses and a tailor made suit to boot, Don Cornelius single handedly masterminded the trip of a lifetime. All aboard!

Come one come all, Los Angeles, California, young eager dancers would form a line outside KTTV studios on Sunset BLVD that seemed to wrap around the building, in hopes of making it on to the show to strut their stuff. Dawning bell bottom slacks, butterfly collars and platform shoes, dancers would shake rattle and roll their sleek dance moves into the hearts and minds of fans all over the world. New Talent such as hit sensations New Edition, Comedian Aresenio Hall, songstress Brandy, just to name a few, that made it onto the stage would later consider that moment to be ‘the defining moment’ their careers would take off. It was Soul train that would ultimately bring exposure to African American talent.   And these talented acts knew it. And so did Don.

He seemed to take a considerable amount of pride when introducing new, as well as old talent to his audience. Telling the audience to ‘give it up for…’ or, ‘put your hands together for…’ No matter what he would say, it all seemed to be so very soulful and cool. The deep baritone voice, the tall slender stance and the assuredness he gave us made it clear that Saturdays mornings were made for one thing-Soul Train.

Program Director and Radio Personality, for LA’s top R&B station KJLH, Aundrae Russell, spoke to briefly about the Dance music television visionary saying that “Don, was like, one of my Hero’s because I grew up probably one of the biggest soul train fans in the world,” Russel said. “When I moved to LA from down south in Mississippi, I moved out here to dance on Soul Train.” And to sum it up, he went on to say, “Don Cornelius was a trailblazer”, having been credited for his many contributions to radio and television on a global


smoothjazztimes has been deeply saddened of losing such an iconic figure that meant so much to so many. His legacy will live on through his many years of shaping an entertainment culture diverse with enough flavors to spice up any soul food menu. In the year 2012 we can still fire up any party with three words: SOUL TRAIN LINE…Anyone that has a pulse and is over a certain age knows exactly what that means. Grab a partner and get ready to be in the spot light for about 7 seconds showcasing your favorite moves and grooves. From pop locking to the bump, the infamous Soul Train Line would be the equivalent to a star on Hollywood Blvd.

So, even though the train has pulled back in to the station after roughly 3 decades of travel, the memories are still hugging the rails. Mr. Cornelius, smoothjazztimes web magazine, salutes you on your many contributions to the entertainment industry and countless opportunities that you have made possible for the hundreds of thousands of African Americans across the country that had a dream like yours. And so, we wish you, sir, Love, Peace, and SOUL…


About Author

Kim Betton is the founder and editorial director of The award winning television anchor/reporter and producer has worked in markets across the U.S.. including NBC4 & USA Sky Radio in Washington, DC, WBKW-TV Buffalo, New York, FOX 13 News Memphis and KARK4 / FOX 16 News in Little Rock,. Kim has a true love for good music! She is also a jazz and off-Broadway musical vocalist. Her love for music and the arts inspired her to launch this magazine. If you have a story idea email her at Thanks for checking us out! Enjoy!

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