Pioneering journalist Nelson George’s new book, “The Hippest Trip in America: Soul Train and the Evolution of Culture and Style,” hit bookstores on Tuesday and offers one of the most concise looks yet at the legacy of one of black America’s most beloved programs. Here’s Gene Seymour’s review over at USA Today:
Soul Train, which ascended from humble beginnings as a local after-school program in Chicago to a phenomenon of national, if not global proportions, was in retrospect the cornerstone of this transformative era, setting the decade’s agenda for music, dance and fashion. I can actually hear many of you giggling at that last one. But, like it or not, many young people, not all of them black, took their dress-for-success cues from mile-high Afros, platform shoes, bell-bottoms and ruffled shirts worn by Soul Train’s legendary cadre of dancers.
In the process, [founder and host Don Cornelius] also provided black artists and black-owned businesses with the kind of national exposure they likely wouldn’t have received without Cornelius’ far-sighted franchise. The book also gives dimension to Cornelius’ personality; he could be as moody as he was magnanimous. And he wasn’t always far-sighted either, as George relates how he, along with other “black music gatekeepers of his generation,” either missed or dismissed the “hip-hop” wave that began building in the late 1980
Read more. The book is one of several, including one by Questlove, that’s been published about the show in recent years.