I've loved music for as long as I can remember. Not sure when the obsession began, I just know I can't live without it. As a '70s baby, I had no idea about the true art of soul and even less knowledge of what it meant to be funky. No pizzazz along with no clue of how to groove to the sound and the feel of the music. It made sense that I was clueless. I was a kid surrounded by larger-than-life afros, bell-bottoms, short dresses, wild colors, and music so funky it caused people to make the ugly face when they heard it.
To understand and appreciate the art, which is music, you have to go back to where it all began, for you. Each musical journey is personal and special. From the music your parents played, to the songs you sang in the church choir music will forever be a vibe that will set the tone for your musical flavor, forever!
Circa 1967, Don Cornelius was hired by WCIU-TV as a news and sports reporter in Chicago. In his spare time, Cornelius promoted and emceed concerts featuring local talent from the Chicago area high schools. The name of his traveling show was called "The Soul Train". WCIU-TV saw the work he was doing, and the opportunity for something even greater that would span over three decades.
Soul Train made a bold entrance in the fall of 1970 and would play a tremendous role in the evolution and showcase of black music and fashion. Dance lines were popular at house parties in Chicago. When Don Cornelius got control of the show, he introduced what would become the infamous Soul Train line. Initially airing as a live show in black and white, it was low budget, but none of that mattered as it was one of the only shows produced by black people, for black people, and it was something to look forward to. Introducing musicians and dancers to the scene, this show would become a stepping stone to the launch of many careers. Featuring stars like James Brown, Michael Jackson, Kool and The Gang, Elton John, Teena Marie, LL Cool J, Stevie Wonder, and the list goes on and on.
As time changes, music changes along with it. What started as an R&B, Funk, and Soul lovers' musical dream would soon make way for the Hip-Hop and Pop music of the '80s. Known for his conservatism, Cornelius wasn't a huge fan of the new music genres, yet he knew the success of the show would require an embrace of change. And who can forget the Soul Train Scramble board!
Growing up watching this iconic and infectious feel-good show on Saturdays, I was in complete awe of the clothes, the hair, and the amazing Soul Train dancers and their moves! To watch clips of this show even to this day will make you want to get up and "shake it don't break it, it took... I digress, but I think you get it.
Ending its 35-year phenomenal run in 2006, we were left with great music, unforgettable memories, and a legacy as timeless as the ending of each show. In the words of the late Don Cornelius, we wish you Love, Peace, and Soulllll!
AJ writes & blogs from her home in Atlanta, GA. You can also find her work as a contributing writer at www.groovmagazine.com
"This is how you do it; you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until it's done. It's that easy, and that hard." -Neil Gaiman