Photo exhibit marks Soul Train's 40th birthday

September 1, 2011 (CHICAGO)

The hippest trip in America returns to Chicago as the city celebrates Soul Train.

"The dancers, the clothes, the producer, Don Cornelius, everyone I ever wanted to see," said Soul Train fan Zenola Evans.

The celebration marks the 40th anniversary of the longest running nationally syndicated program in television history.

And for many it is simply a walk down memory lane.

I used to grow up on this. My parents used to turn it on. I used to dance to it when I was a kid," said Soul Train fan Michelle Berg.

"It was a time of black is beautiful and encouragement of we can do this, we've done this," said Soul Train fan Veronica Laborini.

California native Veronica Laborini is among those who viewed the celebration's accompanying exhibition, which features 56 photographs from an achieve of some 300,000 still photography images.

"These have never before been released or seen by the public," said Nathan Mason, the curator of the exhibit.

Soul Train was the vision of series creator Don Cornelius. Once a Chicago police officer. a DJ for Chicago's WVON radio and local news reporter, he promoted and emceed concerts featuring local talent which he called "The Soul Train."

"The support is almost overwhelming," Cornelius told ABC7 via telephone.

The Saturday morning show debuted in Chicago in 1971 during the rise of Motown and R&B, making it a favorite.

"Without that, the music of the 70s would not have of had the impact that it has today," said radio personality Herb Kent.

The program wasn't just about music. It often introduced the latest hair styles and fashions.

And of course there was the famous Soul Train line.

The celebration also includes a screening of a documentary about the show as well as a Soul Train concert.

Fans can dance to Soul Train music at Expo 72 on Friday. The exhibit goes on there through October 2.

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