Critical History of Soul Train on Television

Critical History of Soul Train on Television

by Christopher P. Lehman

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As a wildly popular local dance show, Soul Train provided a venue for Chicago's soul singers and political activists and gave African American teenagers their first significant chance to see and identify with their peers on television. The subsequent national series garnered even more popularity, establishing producer and host Don Cornelius as one of the most successful pioneers of African American television production. This work discusses Cornelius's role in the evolution of his groundbreaking series from a small, all-black 1970s television show to a lucrative brand name applying not only to the program, but also to awards and various merchandise in the present day.
The first two chapters focus on Cornelius's years in Chicago and the initial launching of Soul Train in 1970. The next two chapters explore how the nationally televised, California-based version of the show rose steadily in both popularity and cultural influence among primarily African American viewers, and how Cornelius himself became a rising celebrity during that time. The final chapters illustrate Cornelius's efforts in branching out beyond the dance show through various music-related business ventures, including the Soul Train Music Awards. The work includes interviews with several former cast members and guests, along with a complete chronology of the series and Cornelius's other professional ventures.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780786436699
Publisher: McFarland & Company, Incorporated Publishers
Publication date: 04/16/2008
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 239
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Christopher P. Lehman is a professor of ethnic studies at St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud, Minnesota, and the author of three books about American popular culture.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments v

Preface 1

Introduction. “The Exciting World of Soul”? The 2007 Soul Train Music Awards 3

1. “Here’s Your Host”

Don Cornelius and “Soul Train” Before Soul Train 7

2. “Welcome Aboard”

Soul Train in Chicago 23

3. “People All Over the World”

Soul Train Enters Syndication 54

4. “The Hippest Trip in America”

Soul Train as Cultural Phenomenon 79

5. “You Can Bet Your Last Money”

Beyond Soul Train and Soul Music 106

6. “Still the Hippest Trip”

Soul Train Loses Preeminence and Grows Older 133

7. “And, As Always, In Parting...”

Soul Train without Don Cornelius 160

Epilogue. “Love, Peace, and Soul”: The Legacies of Soul Train 193

Appendix A. Recurring Guests on the Syndicated Soul Train 199

Appendix B. Guest Hosts, 1993–97 203

Appendix C. Chronology 204

Appendix D. Soul Train Discography 207

Chapter Notes 211

Bibliography 219

Index 225

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