From Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaJump to navigationJump to searchThis article is about the music dance TV show. For the awards program, see Soul Train Music Awards. For other uses, see soul train (disambiguation).
|Created by||Don Cornelius|
|Presented by||Don Cornelius|
(1971–1993; 734 episodes)
Various guest hosts
(1993–1997; 128 episodes)
(1997–1999; 76 episodes)
(2000–2003; 111 episodes)
(2003–2006; 68 episodes)
|Narrated by||Sid McCoy|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||1,117 (list of episodes)|
|Production locations||Metromedia Square|
Hollywood Center Studios
|Running time||45–48 minutes|
|Production company||Don Cornelius Productions|
|Distributor||Tribune Entertainment (1985–2006)|
|Original release||October 2, 1971 –|
March 25, 2006
Soul Train is an American music-dance television program which aired in syndication from October 2, 1971, to March 27, 2006. In its 35-year history, the show primarily featured performances by R&B, soul, dance/pop, and hip hop artists, although funk, jazz, disco, and gospel artists also appeared. The series was created by Don Cornelius, who also served as its first host and executive producer.
Production was suspended following the 2005–2006 season, with a rerun package (known as The Best of Soul Train) airing for two years subsequently. As a nod to Soul Train’s longevity, the show’s opening sequence during later seasons contained a claim that it was the “longest-running first-run, nationally syndicated program in American television history,” with over 1,100 episodes produced from the show’s debut through the 2005–2006 season. Despite the production hiatus, Soul Train held that superlative until 2016, when Entertainment Tonight surpassed it completing its 35th season. Among non-news programs, Wheel of Fortune surpassed that mark in 2018.
- 2Program elements
- 3UK version
- 5Theme music
- 6See also
- 8External links
The origins of Soul Train can be traced to 1965 when WCIU-TV, an upstart UHF station in Chicago, began airing two youth-oriented dance programs: Kiddie-a-Go-Go and Red Hot and Blues. These programs—specifically the latter, which featured a predominantly African Americans group of in-studio dancers—would set the stage for what was to come to the station several years later. Don Cornelius, a news reader and backup disc jockey at Chicago radio station WVON, was hired by WCIU in 1967 as a news and sports reporter. Cornelius also was promoting and emceeing a touring series of concerts featuring local talent (sometimes called “record hops”) at Chicago-area high schools, calling his traveling caravan of shows “The Soul Train”. WCIU-TV took notice of Cornelius’s outside work and in 1970, allowed him the opportunity to bring his road show to television.
After securing a sponsorship deal with the Chicago-based retailer Sears, Soul Train premiered on WCIU-TV on August 17, 1970, as a live show airing weekday afternoons. Beginning as a low-budget affair, in black and white, the first episode of the program featured Jerry Butler, The Chi-Lites, and the The Emotions as guests. Cornelius was assisted by Clinton Ghent, a local professional dancer who appeared on early episodes before moving behind the scenes as a producer and secondary host.
Move to syndication
Soul Train host Don Cornelius (second from right) with The Staple Singers in 1974.
The program’s immediate success attracted the attention of another locally based firm—the Johnson Products Company (manufacturers of the Afro Sheen line of hair-care products)—and they later agreed to co-sponsor the program’s expansion into broadcast syndication. Cornelius and Soul Train‘s syndicator targeted 25 markets outside of Chicago to carry the show, but stations in only seven other cities—WAGA-TV, WBRC, WJW (TV), WJBK, KIAH, KTTV, and WKBS-TV—purchased the program, which began airing on a weekly basis on October 2, 1971. By the end of the first season, Soul Train was on in the other eighteen markets. At the time, there were no other commercial television programs being produced by black people for a black audience; the only nationally available show by blacks for blacks at the time was the public television series Soul! When the program moved into syndication, its home base was also shifted to Los Angeles, where it remained for the duration of its run. Soul Train was part of a national trend toward syndicated music-oriented programs targeted at niche audiences; two other network series (Hee Haw for country music, and The Lawrence Welk Show for traditional music) also entered syndication in 1971 and would go on to have long runs.
Though Don Cornelius moved his operations west, a local version of Soul Train continued in Chicago; Cornelius hosted both the local Chicago and Los Angeles–based national programs simultaneously but soon focused his attention solely on the national edition. He continued to oversee production in Chicago, where Clinton Ghent hosted episodes on WCIU-TV until 1976, followed by three years of once-weekly reruns. The syndicated version was picked up in the Chicago market by CBS–owned-and-operated station WBBM-TV at its launch; the program moved to WGN-TV in 1977 and remained there for the rest of its Chicago run.
Narrator of History by:
Wa’Dell Jones: Artist/Producer/Singer/Songwriter.
Co. Rock Of Ages Entertainment
BMI Pro. Member: 1179604
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