Don Cornelius – Love, Peace, and Soul!

I love music, and follow several musicians on Face Book. That is how I found out about Don Cornelius death – I was going through posts on Face Book, and I saw one from a DJ that referred to Don Cornelius dying. I thought that it had to be a joke! I checked, and it wasn’t a joke … not a joke at all! In fact, it was an apparent suicide. I think it is not too much to say that a nation was in shock. My friends and I grew up watching Soul Train – it was “THE” show to watch! It had a tremendous impact on our lives – the kind of impact that is positive, and never goes away. A gracious, savvy man, whose influence will be forever felt.

I was looking at You Tube videos tonight on the reporting of Don Cornelius death, and saw a huge outpouring of love, no matter who was doing the reporting. I also saw an interesting thing –Flash Mobs were forming to honor his work! The latest in conceptual art showing respect to a true music pioneer. There have been Flash Mob Soul Train lines held in NYC and Chicago (where Cornelius was born), and there is another one that is going to be held on February 12th in Atlanta, GA (sponsored by artist Anthony David and promoter J. Carter). What better way to show respect to such an innovative genius! Blessings to both of these gentlemen for making this happen!

Who was Don Cornelius? He was born in Chicago, in 1936. In 1966 he took a broadcasting course, which lead to his working as an announcer, reporter, and DJ on Chicago radio station WVON. In 1967 he joined WCIU-TV, hosting a news program called “A Black’s View of the News”. In 1970 he launched Soul Train as a daily local show. Inspired by American Bandstand, it had a life of its own! The show went into national syndication, and was moved to Los Angeles in 1971. The rest, as they say, is history!

Cornelius was writer, executive producer, and host for Soul Train. He brought soul music to a wide audience, and gave black performers a national venue, exposing them to a diverse audience. Featuring soul and R&B music, Soul Train ran from 1970 through 2006, with Cornelius hosting the show until 1993.
In 1987 Cornelius started the Soul Train Music Awards, and in 1995 he started the Lady Of Soul Awards. He was a man who was very attuned to the times that he lived in. In 2001 there were issues with MTV booking practices, which called for acts to not appear on competing programs within 30 days of an event, as this made booking acts difficult. In December of 2007 Soul Train lost its distributer when Tribune Entertainment closed that division of its company. A project to create a movie based on the Soul Train franchise was never finalized, due to Cornelius health issues and his legal battles with his ex-wife, Viktoria.

Whatever the reason for his suicide, Don Cornelius deserves our respect. He accomplished many things in his lifetime, and in the process helped many artist achieve their goals and live their dreams. I did a short Tarot spread to look at how Don Cornelius passing affects us as a community/nation. The deck that I chose to work with is the “Shadowscapes Tarot”, by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law.


1. What did Don Cornelius represent in our lives? – The Moon
2. What does his passing mean to us? – the Empress
3. How can we best honor his life? – The Emperor

The first thing that we will all note here is that these are all Major Arcana cards – this reading resides firmly in the land of Spirit. Cornelius represented (and continues to represent) our creative self, our connection with mystery, and also things that are hidden in our lives.

In his passing, we are being asked to look at what he stood for, at how his work impacted us, and how we can nurture and support the wisdom that he brought out in us. He brought us music and style that helped us to grow as individuals. He widened our perspective on life, and he brought a whole new world of music and entertainers to us. He literally allowed us to dance, to experience life in a very happy, positive manner. He was gracious and considerate in all things, as well as being an astute business man. If we don’t want to lose this in our world, we will find ways to nurture it.

How can we honor Cornelius? By being the best people that we can be. By taking calculated risks, by being willing to implement our ideas to see where they will go. By being a good reflection of our times. By allowing ourselves to be innovative and creative. By creating an orderly world, and being responsible for ourselves.

I would like to share the following links in honor of a truly great man:

ABC Remembers Don Cornelius –
CBS Evening News Remembers Don Cornelius –
Don Cornelius Final Interview – HipHollywood –
1995: Cornelius On Success of Soul Train –
Don Cornelius Tribute – Soul Train –
Flash Mob Tribute To Don Cornelius –
Soul Train Retrospective –
Tribute To Don Cornelius –

Don Cornelius – A welcome addition to the Nightshift!

© February 2012 Bonnie Cehovet

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