There wasn’t much my family watched on television together when I was young-So the two things I looked forward to each year was the BET Awards, and the Soul Train Awards. My parents and sisters would gather in the living room and share our opinions on who looks the best and sounds the best. My Dad would revert back to “The Days of Old” when he would watch Soul Train with his brothers. Soul Train brought the comforting nostalgia of family and entertainment. It also was a huge influence in creating my music taste and interests.
I say that, to say this year’s Soul Train Awards gave me mixed feelings.
I loved the fact that Erykah Badu hosted because it gave me hope for the show. I imagined it would be a bit more credible and give some reputable talent that showcases the power of soul; and it did, but not as I expected.
I’m beginning to realize that an era is forgotten. When I was young, my Dad enthusiatically played Etta James as well as Al Green, as well as Dazz Band as well as Michael Jackson, but I noticed on the show the unsaid reference of “way back soul music” is predominantly 90’s soul (Que the thugish Jodeci in baggy leather). I love 90’s soul, I would even say it’s a crucial root in the tree of my music taste BUT, I fear that is casting an unwanted shadow over the vivacious 80’s funk, Love making 70’s R&B and most of all the storytelling 60’s blues that created the template for soul.
Great evidence of this is given through the fact that Babyface was given the Legend award. Being a prevalent producer,writer, musician and artist since the early 90’s; he duly deserves it, but I can’t help but feel unsure about the future of soul music. Other than Jill Scott’s performance and Babyface’s tribute performance, it seemed as if this year’s show concentrated more so on the progression and music influenced by soul, rather than essential soul music. I shouldn’t be so surprised by this, I had a feeling Soul Train ideas were running out when Chris Brown opened last year in an extensive performance. No shade to him, but for me, Chris Brown is not soul music, he is light Californian R&B; And to be fully honest, I even think that’s a stretch. There is some optimism here. I rely heavily on artists like Tyrese, Fantasia and Jazmine Sullivan to keep that torch burning, who gave satisfying performances.
In reverence and appreciation; I hope that there will be artist who preserve the trailblazing spirit of soul.