Soul Train is a long-running American music-related syndicated television program. It premiered on a local television station in Chicago, Illinois in 1970 and went into first-run syndication in selected cities across the United States on October 2, 1971. New episodes are still being broadcast in first-run syndication today, and the show's opening claims that it is the "longest running first-run syndicated program in television history".
Although a few white musicians such as David Bowie, Teena Marie, the Captain and Tennille, Michael McDonald, Elton John, Paula Abdul, Sheena Easton, the Beastie Boys, Michael Bolton, and Christina Aguilera have appeared on Soul Train through the years, the program features African American singers and performers almost exclusively. These artists sing their latest songs and are interviewed by the show's host.
Soul Train has primarily featured performances by R&B, soul, and hip hop artists, although jazz musicians and gospel singers have also appeared. In addition, there is an in-studio group of dancers who dance along to the music as it is being performed.
From its inception until the mid-1990s, the host of Soul Train was Don Cornelius, who is also the program's creator. Cornelius also commissioned the show's theme song, "TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia)", recorded by Philadelphia soul studio group MFSB. Released as a single, this song became a pop and R&B radio hit in 1974.
During the heyday of Soul Train in the 1970s, the program was enormously influential among younger black Americans, many of whom turned to it not only to hear the latest songs by well-known black artists but also for clues about the latest fashions and dance steps. Moreover, for many white Americans in that era who were not living in areas that were racially diverse, Soul Train provided a unique window into black culture. Some commentators have called Soul Train a "black American Bandstand," another long-running (though now cancelled) program with which Soul Train shares some similarities.
From 1999 until 2003, actor Shemar Moore was the show's host. Soul Train is currently hosted by Dorian Gregory .