Tuesday, February 24, 2009

posted by O.W.

My thanks to reader Chris "Zeke" Hand for putting me up on this...

I learned about the old NY public television show Soul! from my friend and colleague Gayle Wald (she of that great Sister Rosetta Tharpe book). Her new book is focused on the history of Soul! which was broadcast beginning in the late 1960s through the early 1970s, first on NY public TV and it had a brief national run too. It was one of the first African American variety shows of its kind, during, arguably, one of the richest eras for Black culture and politics and amazingly, hosted by Ellis Haizlip, an openly gay television and theatre producer.

The performances and interviews from Soul! are incredible; their shows are such a profound archive but for many years, they simply languished in the vaults...until now.

This new site from WNET looks like it's going to start sharing clips and full episodes from the Soul! archive. I can't tell you how incredibly exciting this is (though I did note everything they have up right now is from 1972 and '73...I hope they get permission for stuff from earlier in the show's run. Haizlip has a mind-blowing interview with Louis Farrakhan and asks him, point blank, what the role of gays are in the Black Nationalist movement.

I'm real happy they put up the November 15, 1972 episode, featuring Tito Puente playing salsa and Felipe Luciano breaking down the evolution of Afro-Cuban music in New York City.

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