Soul Train Decoded: Don Cornelius Created the Hippest Brand in America

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REWARDING TALENT

In 1987, Cornelius launched The Soul Train Music Awards, which eventually inspired two additional annual television broadcasts, The Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards, which launched in 1995, and The Soul Train Christmas Starfest, which debuted in 1998. After a two-year hiatus, The Soul Train Music Awards relaunched in 2009 as part of a licensing deal with BET and it remains a top television draw. The 2011 broadcast attracted four million viewers, making it the No. 1 telecast in CENTRIC history. Still, as Gibbs notes the most significant aspect of the show is the fact that it offers a platform for unsung talent, especially with the recent elimination of many Grammy categories. “What we found is that similar to when Don originally launched the award show, a number of artists still don’t really have a platform to be recognized for their artistry,” he says. “For that reason the award shows franchise remains very well received and we have incredible artist support as well as the viewing audience.”

REWARDING TALENT

In 1987, Cornelius launched The Soul Train Music Awards, which eventually inspired two additional…

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