Sunday, May 26, 2019

Don Cornelius - Innovator in the History of Black Music

by Kim (writer), Los Angeles, February 03, 2012

Credit: Kim Vinson
Don Cornelius hosting a Soul Train show

An icon has sadly left us, but shares a treasure beyond words with family and friends.

In the stillness of late Saturday mornings, most teens were still finishing up their bowl of cereal or pancakes. All eyes and bodies were fully alert though for the weekly program that featured live music, dance, and artistic pleasure for all the senses. A television show that veteran Disc-Jockey and Mastermind, Don Cornelius from the Chicago area created and hosted. The infamous as well as infectious "Soul Train" program burst into homes across the nation in the late summer of 1970 bringing professional genius from African American Artists while local youth in the audience shared their talents on the dance floor.

There hadn't been a program quite like it. Sure we had Dick Clark's "American Bandstand" featuring wonderful musicians and talent. There was Steve Binder's "Hullabaloo that was a variety show featuring musical guest artists of the early to mid 1960's. And, there was David Winters "Shindig" that was a big hit and drove us to our T.V. sets on late afternoons.

All of this brings fond memories of the latest Pop Music favorites with dancing, music, and interviewing to match.

Ah...but Alas! Here comes Don Cornelius. He brings a humble yet glorious deep articulate voice, warm, welcoming smile, engaging personality, wealth of knowledge, insight and emergent naturally large afro hair and polished suit. He's bursting with fresh energy and confident within himself sharing that confidence with an audience that reaches from 3 to 93.

The unique aspect about the innovative "Soul Train" program with the train chugging across our television sets on Saturday morning was that it brought to the forefront as never before an array of African American genius created by an African American with a focus on Black music and dance.

Don Cornelius' concentration was the African American Experience in terms of positive pride, intelligence, insightfulness, unity, creativity, spontaneity, and versatility. These were the attributes displayed in a rich and powerful way each Saturday morning. The program that showcased well-known to upcoming artists and taught us how to dance!

Glued to the television listening to and watching the artists or on your feet, gleefully and earnestly matchingthe dance steps with a friend, sibling, the broom, or the wall.

Soul Train was a representation of the vastness, breadth, depth, and connection that can be experienced through music. Don Cornelius helped to bring the complexity and simplicity of how people can come together regardless of race, creed, sex, class, age through the arts.

And, most salient, it was a powerful statement of pride and innovation poised in a multifaceted fashion. Don Cornelius and Soul Train presented attributes to inspire and encourage. Through Soul Train, many different aspects of African Americans and their persona were expressed through the arts weekly.

That is invigorating!

Saturday mornings will never be the same for the next generations. The weekly broadcast of Soul Train came to an end, the legend and the fire that began in 1970 continues with a new dawn.

And, Don you will be sorely missed, but always remembered with love, peace, and heart-felt soul.

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