Soul Train was a television show that featured a majority black cast that showcased musical talent and dance. This show aired on national television in 1971 and ran all the way up until 2006. The mastermind behind the show was Don Cornelius. He was a Chicago news and sports reporter. The show was based off of a touring concert series that featured local talent all over the Chicago area. It first aired on the Chicago station WCIU-TV with one hour long weekday episodes. Soon through the help of George Johnson, the founder of Johnson Product Company, the show was able to gain national attention. Soul Train was able to maintain not only a huge African-American following but also a large white audience. This was due to it portraying black culture as spirited, euphoric, and exciting.
Soul Train gave national exposure to many different African-American music genres. One genre that was very prominent and was showed a lot on Soul Train was funk. Funk was a form of dance music that mixed rhythm and blues with soul music. Popular songs of the time such as “Jungle Boogie” by Kool and The Gang and “Let It Whip” by Dazz Band gained a tremendous amount of success attributed from their Soul Train appearances. Many memorable “Soul Train Lines” were done to funk songs. As shown in the videos, a “Soul Train Line” is a dance formation where all of the dancers line up across from each other and take turns going down the space in between the lines and dance and show off their unique moves.
Another popular Soul Train genre was disco. Disco was a style of dance music known for its unique beat that makes you want to dance. The exuberance of disco paired with the vibes of the show created a marvelous ambiance for musical and dance expression. Although Soul Train is famous for their “Soul Train Line”, these were not the only performances that occurred on the show. Oftentimes, music artists would come and perform on stage while the Soul Train cast would dance to their music. Some acts included “Le Freak” performed by Chic and “We Are Family” performed by Sister Sledge gave remarkable episodes that are still viewed today.
Soul Train was a very monumental television series. It showcased black talent in forms of dance and music. The show also gave exposure to numerous musical genres such as Funk, Disco, and many others. Until this day, Soul Train and the musical talents that have appeared on the show have a grand impact on today’s Black culture.