Guide to the Soul Train Awards Records
NMAH.AC.1223

Administrative Information

Repository Information

Archives Center, National Museum of American History, 2012

P.O. Box 37012
Suite 1100, MRC 601
Washington, D.C., 20013-7012
Phone: 202-633-3270
archivescenter@si.edu

Conditions Governing Access note

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use note

Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

The collection was donated by Soul Train Holdings, LLC, through Kenard Gibbs, CEO on August 12, 2011.

Processing Information note

Processed by Alison Oswald, archivist, 2012.

Appraisal note

Archives Center staff examined over 280 cubic feet of material that consisted of business records with footage in video and digital formats, show transcripts, technical information for each episode, contracts, and slides. These materials were not acquired.

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Summary Information

Repository
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Creator
Soul Train Holdings, LLC
Title
Soul Train Music Awards Records
ID
NMAH.AC.1223
Date [inclusive]
1987-2004
Extent
1 Cubic feet, 1 box
Language
English
Abstract
The collection consists of printed materials, including programs, press kits, prints, slides and posters from various award presentations given by the syndicated television program Soul Train from 1987 to 2004. These include the Soul Train Music Awards, Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards, Soul Train Comedy Awards, and Soul Train Divas and Kings.

Preferred Citation note

Soul Train Music Awards Records, 1987-2004, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution

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Biographical/Historical note

Soul Train, was the longest-running syndicated television series in American history. Don Cornelius, a former disc jockey, created “Soul Train” in 1970 for the Chicago television station WCIU and served as its writer, producer and host. When it became a local sensation, he moved the show to Los Angeles and began broadcasting nationally in 1971, beginning a thirty-five year run in syndication. Soul Train presented rhythm and blues, soul, and hip hop performers, though sometimes funk, jazz, disco, and gospel artists were featured.

Born on Chicago’s South Side on September 27, 1936, Cornelius had an early craving to go into broadcasting. He graduated from DuSable High School in 1954, served in the Marine Corps and then returned to Chicago to marry Delores Harrison. They had two sons, Anthony and Raymond. In 1966, Cornelius gave up a career selling insurance and cars to take a three-month broadcast course. He landed a job as a substitute disc jockey at WVON in Chicago and later as a sports anchor on the television program “A Black’s View of the News.” He produced the “Soul Train” pilot with four-hundred dollars of his own money, taking the title from a road show he had created for local high schools. Cornelius stepped down as host of the "Soul Train" in 1993, but the show continued to air for another decade with guest hosts presiding. In 2001, Cornelius married Viktoria Chapman, but divorced her in 2009.

In 2008, Cornelius sold the "Soul Train" franchise and the archives to a subsidiary of Vibe Holdings LLC. Over 1,117 episodes were produced. The musical artists who performed on "Soul Train" included many of the greatest African American performers of the last decades--Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, James Brown, the Jackson Five--and many Motown acts. Over its long history, the show primarily featured performances by rhythm and blues, soul, and hip hop artists, although funk, jazz, disco, and gospel artist also appeared. While most of these artists were African American, in later years the show featured some white performers such as Elton John and David Bowie. Singer Gino Vanelli was the first to integrate the show, in 1975, when Cornelius invited him to board the train to sing his hit, “People Gotta Move.”

Cornelius also produced a number of award shows and annual specials, including the Soul Train Music Awards, the Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards, and the Soul Train Christmas Starfest. African American performers were predominantly featured in these shows and they served as a welcome counterpoint in the black musical community to what were perceived of as white-dominated award programs.

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Scope and Contents note

The collection consists of printed materials, including programs and press kits, and photographic prints, slides and posters from various award presentations given by Soul Train. These include the "Soul Train" Music Awards, "Soul Train" Lady of Soul Awards, "Soul Train" Comedy Awards, "Soul Train" Divas and Kings.

Series 1, Award Programs, 1987-2004, is subdivided into five subseries: Subseries 1, Soul Train Award Programs, 1987-2004; Subseries 2, Lady of Soul Award Programs, 1995-2003; Subseries 3, Christmas StarFest, 1998-1999, 2003; Subseries 4, Comedy Awards Program, 1993.

Subseries 1, Soul Train Award Programs, 1987-2004, consists of printed programs and press kits for the annual awards event, held each year in Los Angeles, California. The press kits contain biographies for the award recipients, press releases, publicity prints and slides of award recipients. The prints and slides were assembled by Tribune Entertainment Company. In 1995, there was a twenty-fifth anniversary Hall of Fame Special. The history of the "Soul Train" story is chronicled in this 1995 anniversary program.

Subseries 2, Lady of Soul Award Programs, 1995-2003, consists of printed programs, prints, slides, and press kits with biographies and press releases honoring great women in the world of entertainment. The Lady of Soul Awards was the first-ever show format specially designed to honor female entertainers.

Subseries 3, Christmas StarFest, 1998-1999, 2003, consists of printed advertisements and press kits for "Soul Train" Christmas Starfest, a television special of major music stars. The press kits contain biographies, publicity prints, and slides of entertainers who participated.

Subseries 4, Comedy Awards Program, 1993, consists of two programs for the first annual "Soul Train" Comedy Awards. The 1993 debut was the only time the show was produced.

Subseries 5, Divas and Kings Program, 2000, consists of print advertisements for a special Soul Train thirtieth anniversary special featuring performances by a variety of entertainers.

Series 2, Posters, 1989, consists of two posters from the 1989 Soul Train Awards honoring Michael Jackson.

Series 3, Ephemera, 1990, 2001, consists of a tribune Entertainment Company publication,  That's Entertainment from 1990 and newspaper clippings about Soul Train creator, Don Cornelius,  Los Angeles Times, 2001.

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Arrangement note

The collection is arranged into three series.

Series 1, Award Programs, 1987-2004

Subseries 1, Soul Train Award Programs, 1987-2004

Subseries 2, Lady of Soul Award Programs, 1995-2003

Subseries 3, Christmas Starfest, 1998-1999, 2003

Subseries 4, Comedy Award Program, 1993

Subseries 5, Divas and Kings Program, 2000

Series 2, Posters, 1989

Series 3, Ephemera, 1990, 2001

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Related Materials

Related Archival Materials note

Materials Held at Other Organizations

Library of Congress Copyright Office

Complete documentary sets of each “as broadcast” episode in DigiBeta or 1/2" VHS format and written transcriptions. "Soul Train" deposited this material at the Library of Congress Copyright Office in 2001.

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Controlled Access Headings

Genre(s)

  • Articles
  • Posters
  • Press releases
  • Programs

Subject(s)

  • African American music--20th century
  • Award presentations
  • Rhythm and blues music
  • Soul music
  • Soul musicians

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Bibliography

McKinley, James C. "Don Cornelius, ‘Soul Train’ Creator, Is Dead at 75," New York Times, February 1, 2012.

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Collection Inventory

 Series 1, Award Programs, 1987-2004

 Subseries 1, Soul Train Music Award Programs, 1987-2004

Soul Train Music Awards Program, 1987 March 23


  Box Folder
Mixed materials   1 1

Soul Train Music Awards Program, 1988 March 30


  Box Folder
Mixed materials   1 2

Soul Train Music Awards Program, 1989 April 12


  Box Folder
Mixed materials   1 3

Soul Train Music Awards Program, 1990 March 14


  Box Folder
Mixed materials   1 4

Soul Train Music Awards Program, 1992 March 10


  Box Folder
Mixed materials   1 5

Soul Train Music Awards Program, 1993 March 9


  Box Folder
Mixed materials   1 6

Soul Train Music Awards Program, 1994 March 15


  Box Folder
Mixed materials   1 7

Soul Train Music Awards Program, 1995 March 13


  Box Folder
Mixed materials   1 8

Soul Train Music Awards Program, 1995 November 22


  Box Folder
Mixed materials   1 9

Soul Train Music Awards Program, 1996 March 26


  Box Folder
Mixed materials   1 10

Soul Train Music Awards Program, 1997 March 7


  Box Folder
Mixed materials   2 1

Soul Train Music Awards Program, 1998 February 27


  Box Folder
Mixed materials   2 2

Soul Train Music Awards Program, 1999 March 26


  Box Folder
Mixed materials   2 3

Soul Train Music Awards Program, 2000 March 4


  Box Folder
Mixed materials   2 4

Soul Train Music Awards Program, 2001 February 28


  Box Folder
Mixed materials   2 5

Soul Train Music Awards Program, 2002 March 20


  Box Folder
Mixed materials   2 6

Soul Train Music Awards Program, 2003 March 1


  Box Folder
Mixed materials   2 7

Soul Train Music Awards Program, 2004 March 20


  Box Folder
Mixed materials   2 8

 Subseries 2, Lady of Soul Award Programs, 1995-2003

Lady Soul Awards Program, 1995 August 6


  Box Folder
Mixed materials   3 1

Lady Soul Awards Program, 1996 September 9


  Box Folder
Mixed materials   3 2

Lady Soul Awards Program, 1997


  Box Folder
Mixed materials   3 3

Lady Soul Awards Program, 1999 September 3


  Box Folder
Mixed materials   3 4

Lady Soul Awards Program, 2000 September 2


  Box Folder
Mixed materials   3 5

Lady Soul Awards Program, 2002 August 24


  Box Folder
Mixed materials   3 6

Lady Soul Award Program, 2003 August 23


  Box Folder
Mixed materials   4 1

 Subseries 3, Christmas Starfest Programs, 1998-1999, 2003

Christmas Starfest Program, 1998 November 28


  Box Folder
Mixed materials   4 2

Christmas Starfest Program, 1999 November 23


  Box Folder
Mixed materials   4 3

Christmas Starfest Program, 2003


  Box Folder
Mixed materials   4 4

 Subseries 4, Comedy Awards Program, 1993


  Box Folder
Mixed materials   4 5

 Subseries 5, Divas and Kings Program, 2000 August 13


  Box Folder
Mixed materials   4 6

 Series 2, Posters

"Special Honors to Mega Star, Michael Jackson, King of Pop, Rock and Soul" (two copies), 1989 April 12

 Series 3, Ephemera, 1990, 2001

That's Entertainment, 1990 Winter


  Box Folder
Mixed materials   4 7

Newspaper clippings, 2001


  Box Folder
Text   4 8