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  • Soul Train Dance Party with Questlove as DJ

    The Smithsonian Folklife Festival Rhythm and Blues program will be hosting “An Evening with Soul Train,” which celebrates the musical variety television program that aired from 1971 to 2006.

    "Soul Train" holds a unique place as one of the first television programs owned by and marketed to African Americans as well as being one of the longest running syndicated television programs. The show was immensely popular and has become an icon of the times. Just the words "Soul Train" evoke images of platforms, bell bottoms, and afros.

    "Soul Train" was the brain child of producer Don Cornelius, who also hosted the show for twenty-two consecutive years. The Soul Train dancers were a popular feature of the program and such moves as “Locking,” “Roboting,” and “Waacking” were originated on the show. Soul Train came about at a time of exploding popularity for funk and soul music as well as Black-oriented radio programming and record sales.

    Soul Train also became a symbol of Black pride and a vehicle of political protest. Cornelius featured artists with strong political messages and allowed them a space to voice their concerns and frustrations. James Brown spoke on one show about the improvements needed in historically Black universities and followed with his anthem, “Say it Loud (I’m Black and I’m Proud!)” Soul Train continued to evolve over time with changes in popular music, adapting to include such genres as disco and hip-hop.

    The Soul Train evening concert will begin with a panel discussion featuring  Kenard Gibbs, the current CEO/Partner of Soul Train holdings; Tony Cornelius, son of Don Cornelius; Tyrone Proctor, dancer and member of the original Soul Train Gang; Nicholas "NickFRESH" Puzo, DJ and Soul Train historian; and Questlove, Soul Train historian and drummer for the Roots.

    Following the panel discussion will be a dance demonstration lead by Tyrone Proctor with D.C.-based Urban Artistry, and a Soul Train dance party featuring Questlove on the turn tables. And yes… a Soul Train Line! Soul Train is celebrating its 40th anniversary and the Smithsonian Folklife Festival is delighted to be hosting this unique and exciting celebration of American culture.

    An Evening with Soul Train and Dance Party
    Thursday, June 30
    6 to 9 p.m. on the National Mall

    Tucker Foltz is a production intern for the Rhythm and Blues Program of the 2011 Folklife Festival. 

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