The “hippest trip in America” is returning to the small screen with the new drama series American Soul for BET, inspired by the life and times of Soul Train creator and host, Don Cornelius.
Set to premiere on 5 February 2019, the 10-episode scripted series stars actor Sinqua Walls (The Breaks) as Cornelius, alongside Kelly Rowland as Gladys Knight, one of the first performers Cornelius books on Soul Train.
Rowlands is also reportedly recording a cover of Knight’s iconic song ‘ Midnight Train To Georgia’ for the series.
The ensemble cast also includes R&B singer/actress Kelly Price as Brianne Clarke, Jason Dirden (Elementary), Iantha Richardson (This is Us), Christopher Jefferson (5th Ward), Katlyn Nichol and Jelani Winston.
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Set in the 1970s, the show captures the behind the scenes of the iconic music-dance show that aired from 1970 to 2006 and chronicles the cast, crew and Cornelius rise in Hollywood.
It also depicts the fictional trio Encore and the young singers and dancers looking to break into the music industry via Soul Train.
The series is the brain child of writers Devon Greggory (Being Mary Jane) and Jonathan Prince (American Dreams).
Just as Motown brought African American culture to the masses, Cornelius was instrumental in breaking down racial barriers and broadening the reach of black culture to American audiences and beyond throughout the 70s.
Starting out as a local programme in Chicago, Soul Train helped introduce television audiences to iconic acts like Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin, Barry White, Tina Turner and Stevie Wonder.
Soul Train wasn’t limited to only soul and R&B performers, it also helped to break early hip-hop talents like Kurtis Blow and even featured acts like David Bowie, when he released his Philly soul-inspired album, Young Americans.
In 2013, Questlove legendary drummer of The Roots published Soul Train: The Music, Dance, and Style of a Generation to commemorate the legacy of Soul Train.