"Soul!" or "SOUL!" (1967–1971James Ledbetter, "Made Possible By...: The Death of Public Broadcasting in the United States" (1997), Verso, ISBN 1859840299, p. 64.] or 1967–1973 [http://www.wpafilmlibrary.com/wpanews/Volume_02.html WPA Film Library announces exclusive representation of groundbreaking PBS "Soul!" series] , WPA Film Library Newsletter, September 2002, Volume 2. Accessed online 20 April 2008.] C. Gerald Fraser, [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9D0CE2DA1339F933A05752C0A967958260 Ellis Haizlip, Producer, 61, Dies; Mentor to Many Black Performers] , January 30, 1991, "New York Times". Accessed online 21 April 2008.] ) was a pioneering performance/variety television program in the late 1960s and early 1970s produced by
New York CityPBS affiliate, WNET. It showcased African Americanmusic, dance and literature.Gayle Wald, [http://www.empsfm.org/education/index.asp?categoryID=26&ccID=127&xPopConfBioID=1031&year=2008 Abstract for "Vibrations Strong and Mean: 'Soul!' TV and 1970s R&B"] , Experience Music Project 2008. Accessed online 20 April 2008.]
The program was funded in part by the
Ford Foundation, who characterized it in 1970 as "the only nationally televised weekly series oriented to the black community and produced by blacks".Ford Foundation Annual Report 1970, [http://www.fordfound.org/archives/item/1970/text/55 p. 55 of 102] . Accessed online 20 April 2008.]
The program was created and often hosted by
Ellis Haizlip, an openly gayAfrican American closely associated with the Black Arts Movement. Poet Nikki Giovanniwas also a frequent host. Among the musical performers who appeared on the show were Stevie Wonder, Earth, Wind, and Fire, the Dells, Labelle, Ashford and Simpson, Al Green, Tito Puente, Max Roach, and Gladys Knight, as well as African performers Hugh Masekelaand Miriam Makeba. Others who appeared on the program included boxer Muhammad Ali, Nation of Islamleader Louis Farrakhan, minister (later politician) Jesse Jackson, actor / singer Harry Belafonte, actor Sidney Poitier, and Kathleen Cleaver, wife of Eldridge Cleaver.
Its viewership in the African American community was enormous: a 1968 Harris poll estimated that more than 65% of African American households with access to the show watched it on a regular basis. In 1970 it was carried by 72 public television stations.
Gayle Wald writes that "Soul!" offered viewers radical ways of imagining—of hearing, feeling, and seeing—black community. Musically speaking, "Soul!" refused the division of black arts into high and low culture: the music of the concert hall versus the music of the Apollo. "Soul!" made room for both…"
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