Thursday, February 2, 2012

In Honor of Don Cornelius and First Post of Black History Month

I grew up on Soul Train.

Not literally on the show....*rolls eyes* Silly people.

No, I grew up listening to what was called "good, old school music."

I grew up listening to singers like Smokey Robinson, The Miracles, The Temptations, Michael Jackson, The Jackson 5, Marvin Gaye, Gladys Knight, The Supremes, Diana Ross, Fred Astaire, Frank Sinatra, Etta James, Ella Fitzgerald, Lena Horne, Sam Cooke, Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan, Reba McEntire, Martina McBride, Al Green, Luther Vandross, Lionel Richie, Bing Crosby, Frankie Beverly f/Maze.....

And the list goes on and on.

One of the biggest things is that I grew up watching the show "Soul Train."

Growing up "black" in America was an experience in and of itself. Even in this day and age. I was taught many things not just from the biologicals, but African American history and African American culture I learned from watching Soul Train and other "black" shows (ie, A Different World, The Cosby Show, Living Single, Good Times, Parenthood, etc).

Don Cornelius was a major part of that. He was the man who started Soul Train. He was the one who worked tirelessly, fought the good fight, and never wavered in his belief that there should be quality television that showcased black musicians, in a time when buying black music when you weren't actually black was considered very taboo. Don Cornelius was an innovator. He was a history maker. He was a remarkable man.

Don Cornelius passed away (at the age of 75) just yesterday (February 1st) and it was a tragedy (a self-inflicted gunshot wound, he apparently was suffering from dementia and Alzheimer's) and something that definitely shot off waves and sparks through the black community. 95% of the black musicians who became "crossover" (more than just black, but listened to by all races) artist from the 60-80s owe their success to Don Cornelius and Soul Train.

So in honor of Mr. Cornelius and in honor of Soul Train, which is where I learned how to do "the robot" and other dances, and is also where I learned to sing the songs that grip a body and never let go, I would like to share these videos and pictures with you.

Rest In Peace Mr. Cornelius. You will be missed, but never forgotten.

Donald Cortez "Don" Cornelius (September 27, 1936 – February 1, 2012) was an American television show host and producer who was best known as the creator of the nationally syndicated dance/music franchise Soul Train, which he hosted from 1971 to 1993. (from
"“Soul Train,” which aired for more than 35 years, was the longest first-run syndicated television series in broadcast history. In addition to its cultural importance, with regular appearances by such musical giants as Michael Jackson, James Brown andAretha Franklin, the show represented a major advance in entertainment for African Americans.
Recognizing that the major TV networks had virtually no programs geared toward black audiences in 1970, Mr. Cornelius designed “Soul Train” as what he called “a black ‘American Bandstand.’ ”
As the show’s host, he promised — in a burnished baritone voice — to take viewers on “the hippest trip in America.” He drew dozens of star headliners to “Soul Train,” but Mr. Cornelius’s greater achievement might have been as a behind-the-scenes producer and businessman who helped persuade mainstream companies to spend advertising dollars on largely black audiences.
Cornelius left a legacy of creating a popular television destination for black culture and music that unapologetically catered to its core audience and made it part of mainstream culture. As Lonnae O’Neal Parker and Chris Richards explained:
Before BET or MTV, before cable television or the Internet, TV’s “Soul Train” taught a generation how to dance and let black America see itself having fun. At the center stood Cornelius in all his preternatural cool.
For one hour once a week, black people were the cultural insiders. It was fine if others tuned in, but all the fashion, all the jokes, all the references were black, even if that meant the rest of America didn’t get it. Even if the rest of America didn’t know Evelyn “Champagne” King, or wear their hair fried, dyed and laid to the side, or realize that there was a dance called the “Errol Flynn.”
“Don Cornelius made a major impact on television and on so many people around the country,” said D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray. “ ‘Soul Train’ really attracted a lot of African Americans when there wasn’t much for African Americans in that regard. . . . It was an opportunity to see people that you otherwise were not be able to see.”
Local music great Chuck Brown remembers Cornelius as “smooth, cool, extremely intelligent.” He met him on a “Soul Train”-sponsored tour in the early ’70s but didn’t get to perform on the program until 1979, when his definitive hit “Bustin’ Loose” topped the charts.
“I wasn’t satisfied with the performance, but he was,” Brown said. “He would make sure everyone was comfortable. . . . [He was] a great TV presence. He was the man.” (from

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