Lovin’ the nation’s hippest trip; Making sounds of joy


June 19, 2014

Back in the day, young people all across America flocked to the tube every Saturday morning to watch the most popular black syndicated show of all time. So when “The Hippest Trip in America: Soul Train and the Evolution of Culture and Style” by veteran observer Nelson George hit the streets, we wondered what we would find out that we didn’t already know.

The answer is plenty! Founder Don Cornelius is portrayed as a visionary who would not be denied. Accordingly, he ruled with an iron fist and fought back at those who would block him (people like Dick Clark)!

Here are the stories of the artists, dancers, execs and others who were heavily influenced, including Nick Cannon, who was a dancer. We find out that one of the chief violators of Don’s warning to men to stay away from his young female dancers was none other than “Uncle” Charlie Wilson, the charismatic, ultra-soulful lead singer of the Gap Band!

Here’s a trivia question for you. Episode 735 of the 1993-94 season was the first not hosted by its founder and producer. Who was the first person to attempt to fill his spot? You’ll find the answer later in this column. Pick up the book for more tantalizing tidbits from a show that’s still much beloved.

TASTY QUIP: “Oh, that girl is a little black girl in white skin! That little hussy! She sings like an old woman!” — PATTI LABELLE talking to New York magazine about Ariana Grande, whom she met when she sang “Lady Marmalade” with her for Grande’s birthday four years ago.

STEPPING UP: Emmy-winning director/choreographer Debbie Allen and Grammy-winning and Oscar-nominated songwriter superstar James Ingram team up again to present what is sure to be one of the hottest shows of the summer: the rejuvenated adaptation of the classic Brothers Grimm tale, “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” now called “Brothers of the Knight!”

The show — which stars her daughter, Vivian Nixon, and a cadre of future dance stars — runs June 19-22 at the Saban Theatre (8440 Wilshire Blvd.) before moving on to BostonPhiladelphia, D.C., and Charlotte.

TASTY CONCERTS: Grammy Award-winning Beninese singer Angelique Kidjo is giving a free show at 8 p.m. Friday at California Plaza (350 S. Grand Ave.) Visit: grandperformances.org for details.

The Road To The BET Experience also is presenting a free show at 3 p.m. Saturday at Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza (3650 W MLK Jr. Blvd.). Eric Benet and American Idol winner Candice Glover are featured. Later that evening, Tamar Braxton is holding court at Club Nokia (800 Olympic Blvd.) at 9 p.m.  Tickets start at $26.

TC on TV: “The Daytime Emmys” (DaytimeEmmys.Net) 6/22: For the 1st time the awards will be streamed live for free!

“Oprah’s Master Class” (OWN) 6/22: Lionel Richie opens up about his childhood in Tuskegee, Alabama, the prejudices he endured and what he learned from his father about conquering adversity.

“Rising Star” (ABC) 6/22: Premiere of a new interactive singing competition where you judge along with Ludacris and others.

“True Blood” (HBO) 6/22: The final season begins!

“Watch What Happens Live” (BRAVO) 6/22: Kandi Burress

“Chelsea Lately” (E!) 6/23: Kevin Hart

“Taxi Brooklyn” (NBC) 6/25: U.S. Series debut for Burkina Faso actor Jacky Ido from Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglorious Basterds.”

“Late Late Show” (CBS) 6/26: Keke Palmer; 6/27: Ice-T & Body Count

TASTY QUIP, TOO:  “The Depression has set in. The days of the shiny shoes and fancy suits are long gone. It ended very badly for Chalky last year. His family life is no more, and he is desperately seeking [Jeffrey Wright’s] Dr. Narcisse to settle old scores.” — Actor MICHAEL K. WILLIAMS giving a preview to Den of Geek of the fifth and final season of HBO’s Boardwalk Empire airing this fall.

MIDDLE PASSAGE II: Africa’s largest provider of original film and television content has launched a service similar to Hulu for Africans living in the U.S. Africa Magic Go (AMGO) www.africamagicgo.com, offers viewers the ability to tune into Africa’s best original productions via a PC for just $8 per month. The service offers hundreds of films and television programs, and no fewer than 250 original feature films have been commissioned for 2014.

This easy-to-use service is commercial-free, and there is a one-week free trial for new subscribers. Nigeria‘s most successful soap opera, Tinsel—a series set in the glittering world of film production; 53 Extra, a weekly West African entertainment show named in honor of the number of countries in the African Union; and popular films of the diaspora like Spinsters, Blue Flames and Moving On are a part of their offerings.

JOYFUL NOISE: Hip hop producer turned contemporary jazz sax evangelist Sam Rucker stands out from the bunch by preaching melodic messages of hope and inspiration on “Tell You Something,” his sophomore set featuring contributions from recording veterans Norman Connors, Bobb Lyle, Tom Browne and Alyson Williams on the disc mixed and mastered by Euge Groove.

Rucker co-produced with Connors three classic R&B covers: “Before I Let Go,” “Footsteps in the Dark” and a version of Connors’ signature romancer “You Are My Starship” that is ignited by star turns from Browne’s gregarious trumpet and Lyle’s nuanced keyboards.

CLIPPETTES:  LIFETIME is doing a biopic on Aaliyah to star Zendaya Coleman, the Disney Channel actress/singer (“Shake It Up!”) who made a stir on “Dancing with the Stars”…

In a marketing move we probably should’ve seen coming, rapper Wiz Khalifa and RAW Rolling Papers have joined forces for a new line of smoking accessories…

The eldest son of Stephen “Ragga” Marley and grandson of Bob Marley, Jo Mersa just released his debut EP “Comfortable” on the Marley family’s imprint Ghetto Youths International.  He’s going out on the road with the group Slightly Stoopid who will play Irvine on 7/19 and Santa Barbara on 7/21.

CASTING CALL:  Producers are seeking blended families ala “Brady Bunch” that are about to get married to star in a new TV docu-series from an award-winning television production company. Do you & your fiancé already have kids from a previous relationship? Are you in the process of trying to become one big happy family? * Is it harder than you thought it would be?

If so, reach out to the producers (if selected to appear, you will be paid).

TO SUBMIT, email ALL the info requested to: veranoproductions@gmail.com. Be sure to include:

  • First and last name.
  • Contact phone number
  • City/State where you live
  • Details about your story! Tell producers about yourself, your fiancé(e) and your blended family to be! Provide them with names, ages, your intended wedding date, and why the transitions to your new family life has been a challenge. 5. Include recent photo(s) of you, your fiancé(e), and your kids (jpg format please).

MORE SOUL TRIPPIN’: Kim Wayans, a star on Fox’s “In Living Color” and the female member of the comedic Wayans clan, would be the first to try to fill Don Cornelius’ shoes. The rest of that season’s 31 shows would be hosted by comedians (Steve White, Lewis Dix, John Witherspoon, George Wallace), actresses (Sheryl Lee Ralph, Paula Jai Parker, Ella Joyce), actors (Mario Van Peebles, John Henson, Morris Chestnut) and one very poised model with a bright future in TV (Tyra Banks).

TASTY QUIP FINALE: “Don’t be afraid to be black. Don’t try to be something else. Everyone’s gonna copy our [stuff] anyway. I made the blackest ‘Fast and Furious,’ I made Paul Walker say ‘Cuz’ in the movie. I elevated it. You can’t front that [black films] don’t make money. I haven’t lost anybody money. People said, ‘Twelve Years a Slave,’ I don’t want to feel bad, oh, that’s a hard sell – $178 million, so what the f— is commercial, you know?” – Director JOHN SINGLETON to an audience at the L.A. Film Festival.

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