No More Love, Peace & Soul

1 Feb

Don Cornelius circa 1970s

I woke up today to a report of the passing of iconic “Soul Train” television host Don Cornelius, “found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was 75”, according to the Associated Press.

For me, as I am sure for many black people, Cornelius was more than just a host on music television show; he was a visionary opening a door for black entertainers to perform to the masses on their own terms. From the way we walked, talked dressed and lived life, he made being black cooler than ever. Before “Soul Train” all we had was “American Bandstand” and let’s just say it was not about us.

I was born in July of 1970 the same year “Soul Train” began airing in Chicago before going national in 1971, so by the time I was in elementary school it was available everywhere.  Growing up, “Soul Train” was appointment television in the homes of every black person I knew. It was the place to learn the latest dances like the penguin, hustle, robot, bump, locking and the most popular dance of them all, the “Soul Train” line (Cornelius only danced down the line twice in all his years as the host); ‘til this day, I can’t attend a family BBQ, birthday party, wedding or funeral without everyone breaking into the “Soul Train” line before the night is over.

The show was also an outlet to learn what was in or out of fashion. Bell bottoms, gauchos, dashiki and a natural, Afro puffs or micro braids with beads and gold hair accessories? A blowout with big curls and gelled down baby hair will gel, a Cleopatra bob or ponytails? Or heavy wooden platforms sandals and platform tennis shoes with a rainbow sole?

Robin Thicke

“Soul Train” let me hear and see Barry White, Marvin Gaye, Chaka Khan Rufus, The Jackson Five, and The Isley Brothers; and blue-eyed soul acts like Tower of Power, Teena Marie, David Bowie and Hall & Oats, long before there was George Michael, Robin Thicke, or a Justin Timberlake.

Don Cornelius

Whatever the reason Don Cornelius decided to take his own life is not important to me. What is important was his contribution to American culture, music and changing the face of television forever. And for this I want to say cheers and you will be missed.

Thank you for reading.

Adrienne xo

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