The Hippest Trip in America: Soul Train and the Evolution of Culture & Style

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9780062221032: The Hippest Trip in America: Soul Train and the Evolution of Culture & Style

An authoritative history of the groundbreaking syndicated television show that has become an icon of American pop culture, from acclaimed author and filmmaker Nelson George, “the most accomplished black music critic of his generation” (Washington Post Book World).

When it debuted in October 1971, seven years after the Civil Rights Act, Soul Train boldly went where no variety show had gone before, showcasing the cultural preferences of young African-Americans and the sounds that defined their lives: R&B, funk, jazz, disco, and gospel music. The brainchild of radio announcer Don Cornelius, the show’s producer and host, Soul Train featured a diverse range of stars, from James Brown and David Bowie to Christine Aguilera and R. Kelly; Marvin Gaye and Elton John to the New Kids on the Block and Stevie Wonder.

The Hippest Trip in America tells the full story of this pop culture phenomenon that appealed not only to blacks, but to a wide crossover audience as well. Famous dancers like Rosie Perez and Jody Watley, performers such as Aretha Franklin, Al Green, and Barry White, and Cornelius himself share their memories, offering insights into the show and its time—a period of extraordinary social and political change. Colorful and pulsating, The Hippest Trip In America is a fascinating portrait of a revered cultural institution that has left an indelible mark on our national consciousness.

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From the Back Cover:

"We wish you love, peace . . . and soul!"

When it debuted in October 1971, Soul Train boldly went where no variety show had gone before, showcasing the cultural preferences of young African Americans and the fashions and sounds that defined their lives: R&B, funk, jazz, disco, and gospel music. The brainchild of radio announcer Don Cornelius, who was the show's producer and host for decades, Soul Train featured a diverse range of stars, from James Brown and David Bowie to Gladys Knight and R. Kelly; from Marvin Gaye and Elton John to the New Kids on the Block, Stevie Wonder, and the Beastie Boys.

From acclaimed author and filmmaker Nelson George ("the most accomplished black music critic of his generation"—Washington Post Book World), The Hippest Trip in America tells the full story of this legendary pop-culture phenomenon. A landmark program in black music and culture, Soul Train, which premiered just seven years after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, presented a positive image of black America—for black America—and became destination television every Saturday. It also enjoyed a wide crossover audience, and for years served as a cultural nexus for the entire nation. Famous dancers like Rosie Perez and Jody Watley, performers such as Aretha Franklin, Al Green, and Barry White, and Don Cornelius himself all share their memories, offering insights into the show and its time—a period of extraordinary social and political change.

As pulsating and colorful as the show itself, The Hippest Trip in America is a vivid and vital portrait of a revered cultural institution—the longest-running syndicated program in television history—that has left an indelible mark on our national consciousness.

About the Author:

Nelson George has written several classic black music histories, including Where Did Our Love Go? The Rise and Fall of the Motown Sound, The Death of Rhythm & Blues, and Hip Hop America. He also coedited The James Brown Reader: 50 Years of Writing About the Godfather of Soul. His most recent novel is The Plot Against Hip Hop. He has also contributed articles to the New York Times. George directed the HBO film Life Support as well as the VH1 documentary Finding the Funk.

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