Chicago celebrates 'Soul Train' with free concert

September 5, 2011 (CHICAGO)

The long-running, nationally syndicated show and its founder, Chicago native Don Cornelius, were honored in the free concert Monday night.

Artists like The Impressions, The Chi-Lites, The Emotions, Gene Chandler and Jerry Butler will perform. They combine to boast hits like "Duke of Earl," "Have You Seen Her?" and "Best of My Love." They'll be joined by a full orchestra.

Chicago celebrated the anniversary other ways too, including a screening of the documentary "Soul Train: The Hippest Trip in America," a photo exhibit, and a dance party.

Music stars like Tina Turner, Marvin Gaye, The Jackson 5, Stevie Wonder, Elton John and Whitney Houston performed on "Soul Train."

Soul Train originated in Chicago, and the concert was the culmination of the 40th anniversary celebration.

"This is living history - these guys can still sing their butts off," said Mike Orlov of the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs. "The musicians can still play really well."

An honorary street sign was unveiled, named for Soul Train founder and host Don Cornelius.

"When you've been away from it for at least a few years like I have, you start to think about - was that really me, the guy with the afro? Did I do that? Was that me talking to James Brown and Aretha and those people?" said Cornelius.

For many of the artists who appeared in the first shows, including the Chi-Lites, the Impressions and the Emotions, Monday's performances were like a walk down memory lane. The show was not just about the music - it extended to the latest hairstyles and fashion, too.

"Soul Train was a blessing to everyone, because it had something for us to do - something positive," said fan Charles Akin.

Although the weekly show ended after moving from Chicago to L.A., what it symbolizes remains.

"Music and the power of music is everlasting," said Kenard Gibbs of Soul Train Holdings. "Soul Train, the brand, was such, and has played such an integral role in not only black music in America but music in America."

Soul Train is the longest-running nationally-syndicated program in television history.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Event Information

Soul Train Photo Exhibition
Open daily through September 5 (Labor Day)
Expo 72, 72 E. Randolph Street
Final Weekend Hours: Friday 8 a.m. - 8 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m. - 6 p.m.; Sunday 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.; Monday 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Don't miss the final days of the first-ever Soul Train Photo Exhibition with images capturing some of the iconic musicians who performed on the show including Chaka Khan, Stevie Wonder, Sly Stone, Chuck Berry and more. Images were selected from more than 300,000 never-before-seen archival shots taken on the Soul Train set.

Friday Night Groove with Chic-A-Go-Go
Friday, September 2, 6 - 8 p.m.
Expo 72, 72 E. Randolph Street
Everyone can dance and relive the days of the Soul Train when Chic-a-Go-Go tapes their all-ages television show at Expo 72's Soul Train Photo Exhibition. Attendees will feel as if they have stepped onto the Soul Train set, dancing to Soul Train beats under disco balls amongst a retrospective of photographs. Drawing from legendary dance programs like Soul Train and American Bandstand, as well as Chicago's own 1960s shows Kiddie-A-Go-Go and Red Hot and Blue, Chic-a-Go-Go combines classic TV entertainment with an original, whimsical style. The evening features DJ Bob Abrahamian of 88.5 WHPK's Sitting in the Park on the turntable and Chic-a-Go-Go hosts Miss Mia Park and Ratso.

Film Screening: "Soul Train: The Hippest Trip in America" with Don Cornelius
Sunday, September 4, 2 p.m.
Gene Siskel Film Center of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, 164 N. State Street
$11/general admission; $7/students (with current I.D.); $6/Film Center members
Immediately following the screening, there will be a moderated question and answer session with Soul Train founder, Don Cornelius, and current CEO of Soul Train Holdings and Chicago native, Kenard Gibbs.

For more information about Chicago's 40th Anniversary Soul Train Concert and all of the Soul Train activities, visit, call 312.742.1168, visit Millennium Park on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @Millennium_Park.

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