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Soul Train Music Awards Reach End of Line
By Sentinel Wire Service
Published April 17, 2008

041708_DonCorneliusIt's the end of the line for the Soul Train Music Awards, which have largely been ignored by the African-American stars the event aims to honor.

A spokeswoman said the show would not go ahead with its 22nd annual installment this year, but a reason was not specified.

At last year's event in Pasadena, most of the winners did not show up, including such A-listers as Beyonce Knowles, Mary J. Blige, John Legend and Gnarls Barkley.

The show takes place a few weeks after the Grammys, the music industry's top awards. Similarly themed ceremonies like the BET Awards have also provided some competition.

Perhaps more critically, the underlying syndicated dance show "Soul Train" ended its historic run in 2006. It was distributed by Tribune Entertainment, which exited the syndication business when billionaire Sam Zell took its Tribune Co. parent private late last year in a highly leveraged deal.

The "Soul Train" TV show has served as an important promotional springboard for black music's biggest stars since launching in national syndication in 1971. It claimed to be the longest-running show airing in first-run syndication.

The franchise is the brainchild of Don Cornelius, an ambitious Chicago DJ who decided in the late '60s that there was a need for a TV show featuring young black people dancing to recorded music. Few shared his view, and he self-funded a pilot in 1969. It aired on a Chicago TV station the following year, and quickly became a hit.

Cornelius, famed for an expansive afro in his younger days, hosted the show for the first 22 years. But he has kept a low public profile and rarely consents to interviews. He tearfully accepted a Grammy Award for lifetime achievement in 2005.

Categories: News (Entertainment)

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