Remembering the Conductor of Soul Train
Cornelius and his smooth baritone were a steadying presence at the show for more than two decades; he hosted until 1993 and remained involved behind the scenes until the show went off the air, in 2006. “Soul Train” remains the longest-running nationally syndicated show in American history. Cornelius was compared to Dick Clark (for the “American Bandstand”-like format of “Soul Train”) and Ed Sullivan (for his dedication to promoting new artists and keeping established artists in the spotlight), but in fact he was without compare: the show upheld the traditions of soul music, and African-American culture in general, through one of the nation’s most vibrant, tumultuous decades. In recent years, Cornelius endured a nasty divorce and suffered through a host of health problems, though he remained proud of his legacy and spoke recently of executive producing a feature film about the history of “Soul Train.” He closed every show with a catchphrase that quickly became an iconic part of American culture, and it seems fitting to revive it here: As always in parting, we wish you love, peace, and soul.