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Don Cornelius





Various Artists


Ahmet Ertegun Award

As creator, producer, and host of Soul Train, Don Cornelius engineered the “hippest trip in America” for over two decades. He created a vehicle for soul, R&B, dance, and hip hop to find their way into our living rooms. In the process, he became a visionary entrepreneur who opened the door – and held it open – for many others to follow him through.

Don Cornelius

Don Cornelius


By Carol Cooper

When sent to Los Angeles in 1975 to cover a studio taping of the then five-year-old Black music and dance program Soul Train, U.K.
journalist Mick Farren paid show creator Don Cornelius and crew the ultimate transatlantic compliment. Measuring Soul Train’s cultural
relevance and efficient production values against prior episodic examples of British (and American) music television, Farren wrote in New Musical Express: “They have hit on a formula for generating energy on the studio floor in a way that maximizes the excitement, but never lets it run away with itself. It’s the most refreshingly alive TV rock presentation since Ready Steady Go!”

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Class of 2023
There weren't very many people on TV that looked like me, except on Soul Train.
Brian McKnight
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