Image Credit: NICOLA GOODE
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The show’s playwright is Tony-nominated, Dominique Morrisseau. Morrisseau wrote for the Broadway hit Ain’t Too Proud To Beg, about the Temptations.
Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, who wrote his own book, Soul Train: The Music, Dance and Style of a Generation, is another one of the executive producers, along with CSI creator Anthony E. Zuiker, and Live Nation Urban president Shawn Gee.
“We’re thrilled that our extensive search for the best creative minds for Soul Train has yielded some of the finest talent in their fields, whether that be storytelling, dance, music, or direction. That this process also led us to a historic first — having African American female artists as the creative core of a Broadway musical — only makes us more excited about the journey,” said Matthew Weaver, Jeffrey Tick, and Richard Gay, the producing partners, in a joint statement. “Don Cornelius created a television show that became a cornerstone in American Culture, and we are so humbled and honored to be bringing it to the stage with their brilliant vision.”
According to a press release, “Through more than 20 classic hit songs from the era, the musical tells the personal story of Cornelius as he creates the iconic television series.”
“Having grown up on this series and being immersed in the culture around it, I never knew what it took to make it the iconic staple that it is,” Morriseau said. “Through the socio-political challenges both internally and externally, Don Cornelius’ uncompromised vision, and the revolutionary dance culture that the show made visible to the mainstream, there are a million handprints on what we know as Soul Train.”
Cornelius was a disc jockey in Chicago when he made the Soul Train pilot with his own money. He told the NY Times that it “was developed as a radio show on television. It was the radio show that I always wanted and never had. I selected the music, and still do, by simply seeing what had chart success.”
The show aired from 1971 through 2006, giving a spotlight to black performers, like Aretha Franklin, James Brown, and Barry White. Cornelius died in 2012, from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.