'American Soul': 'Soul Train' creator Don Cornelius' life will be chronicled in new BET series
The 10-episode series will take us through two decades and explore Don Cornelius' personal life story and the making of the revolutionary TV show 'Soul Train'
Are you ready to be struck with nostalgia as "Souuuuuuul Traaaaaaaaaiin" comes on TV again? However, this time, it's not the music-dance television program that will get you to rise from your chair and do the 'Soul Train' dance. In fact, it will be all about Soul Train's first host and executive producer, Don Cornelius.
Chronicling the life and rise of Cornelius, the show will give us an insight into understanding the man who gave America one of the most radical and entertaining TV shows of all time. In the 1970s, when the economy was suffering, Hollywood was not as inclusive and the effects of the Civil Rights movement was on the surface, Cornelius took upon himself the task of building a platform for the African-American community to promote their culture.
'Soul Train,' dubbed "the hippest trip in America," ran for 35 long years, and became one of the "longest-running first-run, nationally syndicated programs in American television history," as the show's opening sequence claimed during later seasons. After Cornelius retired from hosting in 1993, the syndicated show still ran for over a decade. The rights were completely sold in 2008, and Cornelius made headlines for getting in trouble with the law and getting arrested for domestic violence. In 2012, he tragically died by suicide February 1.
Now, coming to TV is Sinqua Walls starring as Cornelius in the BET's highly anticipated series, 'American Soul.' Premiering Tuesday, the show's teasers and trailers have shown us a replica of the 'Soul Train' set and the glitz and glamour of music, dance and funky moves. Added to all this, the show includes a star-studded cast including Kelly Rowland as Gladys Knight, who played a part in the national syndication of 'Soul Train' during its early years as well as Kelly Price, who plays Brianne Clarke, a series regular, accompanied by Jason Dirden, Iantha Richardson, Christopher Jefferson, Katlyn Nichol and Jelani Winston.
But the show is much more than this, it will delve heavily into Cornelius' dark side. He wasn't always dancing and cheering people around him, he was fighting, physically, doing what he thought was right. In a recent interview, his son Tony Cornelius explicitly spoke about the ugly scenes shown in 'American Soul.'
"He’s probably the only man I know of, that actually fought for his business, physically fought for his business. He got physical because it was everything for him. And many times, when you have a guy whose business is first, you lose in some other areas — you lose in family, you lose in relationships," he said.
What will feature in the show will also recollect Cornelius' first wife Delores Harrison, whom he married in 1956. Tony said; "I had long conversations with my mother to get her blessing on [depicting] some of the things that happened between the two of them. I think in the end my father always had a method to the madness."
However, the charges of arrest that Cornelius was slapped with in 2008 was with his second wife, Viktoria Chapman, a Russian model. We will likely see all the pleasant and non-pleasant dimensions of the icon and not just his 'Souuuuul Traaaaain' persona. Love it or hate it, we are ready to get obsessed.
'American Soul' airs February 5 on BET at 9/8c.