Friday, September 2, 2011

"Soul Train" concert at Millennium Park to celebrate lasting legacy of show


The success of "Soul Train" is another example of why Chicago is at the center of the music universe.

"Soul Train," founded by Chicago native Don Cornelius, aired in syndication from October 1971 to March 2006 and is the longest-running, nationally-syndicated program in television history.

Several legendary Chicago acts will perform at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 5, in a free concert in the Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park in Chicago to celebrate the 40th anniversary of "Soul Train."

Jerry Butler, the original lead singer of the vocal group The Impressions, will perform along with The Impressions, The Chi-Lites, The Emotions, Gene Chandler, the "Duke of Earl," and Otis Clay.

They will be backed by a orchestra of veteran musicians lead by conductor Tom Tom Washington. 

Cornelius will be on hand during the festivities. A pre-concert dance party will be held from 4 to 5:30 p.m. on Millennium Park's Chase Promenade at Cloud Gate hosted by Chicago radio pioneer, V103 Radio's Herb Kent.

More information is at

In addition, a "Soul Train" photo exhibition is on display at Expo 72, located at 72 E. Randolph St., across the street from the Chicago Cultural Center. The exhibition will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday. For more information, go to

I had the chance to talk to Mike Orlove, director of music programming at the Chicago Office of Tourism and Culture, about the concert.

Q - What made you want to put this together?

I think it was really taking a look at this timely anniversary and realizing that so many of these artists that helped launch the show, including the founder and host of the show, Don Cornelius, are alive and well.

It really is a big celebration of Chicago's very rich musical history.

Q - What do you remember about "Soul Train?"

Like everybody else, the dancing and the music. People wanted to watch to see what the new dance moves were going be.

Q - Was it hard getting everybody on board for this?

Everybody was receptive. 

Q - What made you want to get the acts that you picked for Monday's concert?

These artists, before "Soul Train" went national, were part of the very first series of shows that aired in mid-August 1970.

Q - Of course, there is a dance party before the concert with Herb Kent, who is a legend in his own right.


Q - What made you want to include a dance party as part of the festivities?

It's part of the history of the show. It fits right in with what the show was about.

Q - What do you think the highlights are going to be?

The whole thing. I'm looking forward to the whole thing. 

All those artists on stage will be a highlight.