Network: first-run syndication
Episodes: 1,117 (hour)
TV show dates: October 2, 1971 — March 25, 2006
Series status: Cancelled/ended
Performers include: Don Cornelius, Mystro Clark, Shemar Moore, Dorian Gregory, Pat Davis, Albert Ebbs, Andrea N. Miles, Vicki Abercrombie, Diana Thompson, Lina So, and Sid McCoy.
TV show description:
This African American-oriented variety program is the first of its kind on American television. Each episode features musical performances by rhythm and blues, soul, and hip hop artists, as well as appearances by guest hosts, and dance numbers by the show’s dancers.
Artists featured over the years have included Gladys Knight & the Pips, B.B. King, Al Green, The Four Tops, Ike and Tina Turner, The Jackson Five, The Temptations, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson, The Pointer Sisters, Elton John, Barry White, David Bowie, Kool & the Gang, Donna Summer, The Beastie Boys, New Edition, Luther Vandross, New Kids on the Block, Milli Vanilli, Salt-n-Pepa, Run D.M.C, Paula Abdul, MC Hammer, Lil’ Kim, and P. Diddy.
In addition to musical performances, there are regular segments like the “Soul Train Hotseat,” in which artists are interviewed by the show’s dancers. In “Soul Train Scramble Board,” two dancers are given one minute to unscramble a board of random letters — often spelling the name of that show’s performer or the name of a famous African American in history.
Each program typically ends with the show’s dancers forming two separate lines across from one another, otherwise known as the “Soul Train Line.” Each dancer struts down the length of the line to showcase their trademark moves.
The series was created by Don Cornelius and he hosted the program for most of its run. Other hosts have included Mystro Clark, Shemar Moore, and Dorian Gregory.