For some, Don Corleone was it (character from The GodFather movies); for others it was Don LaFontaine was the man (famous voice-over master) but for me The Don was Cornelius. The Deeper than the color Black Baritone Voice. Towering man with the enigmatic afro. A Mastermind. Visionary. Innovator. Creator. Born Don Cortez Cornelius, he was a Marine, announcer/reporter & DJ on WVON AM in Chicago before he became a writer / producer / host of Soul Train. Small beginnings and success to "the hippest trip in America!" It was a boast that Don Cornelius backed up as Soul Train became "The longest-running, first-run, nationally syndicated program in television history" and oh yeah, the brainchild behind the concept and programming is a Blackman.
This was to be the first of many posts during Black History Month. It was oddly enough, going to highlight on of my personal favorite creators. Ironically, Mr. Don Cornelius left this life on the 1st day of Black History Month. One of the greatest. How he left this world and why he left are not the point of this post but of what he left behind. A Legacy. Engraved and embossed in the time/space continuum known as history. Take away his contribution, Soul Train and you erase the incredible artistic viewings, performances and careers of thousands of Black Artists worldwide. In its absence, you dynamically alter Black Music and its profound effect on American entertainment and culture.
From old school to new school, generations of all cultural landscapes have been influenced and inspired by Don's vision and hard-work.
"Picture a mic, the stage is empty.
A beat like this might tempt me.
To pose, show my rings and my fat gold chain,
Grab the mic like I'm on Soul Train"
- Eric B. & Rakim / I Know You Got Soul from the Paid In Full Album
"It's nice to know, you know, American Music Awards & Grammys, ya'll alright, but I got SOUL!" - Heavy D./ 1991 Soul Train Award Winner
No, Don Cornelius didn't get Hip Hop, but still for Black Artists, it was a pinnacle and highlight in their careers and success to be interviewed or be seen on the magnificent platform called Soul Train, when there were so very few options and avenues to express their talents on national television for exposure.
For non-artists, learning the latest dance moves to the cutting edge fashion, Soul Train was the barometer and thermometer for the freshest and hottest urban/black music. Who knew that the local show from Chicago, would grow to be an American Institution, that glued millions to the t.v. every Saturday? I was mesmerized as I watched my favorite artists perform, even celebs made guest dance appearances. My fondest memory of Soul Train? Way back in elementary school, I participated on an academic team, I'll always remember a particular question, "What does the host of Soul Train say at the end of every show?"
My hand shot up faster than a NASA rocket, I said it Loud, Black & Proud,
"... and you can bet your last money, it's all gonna be a stone gas, honey! I'm Don Cornelius, and as always in parting, we wish you love, (kiss two fingers) peace and (raise fist in air) soul!"
I will always remember the applause. For a moment, I was Don Cornelius!
I will always remember the contributions of Soul Train
& I will always remember THE Don!
We wish ya,
LOVE, PEACE & SOUL, bruh.