ATLANTA — 11Alive’s digital reporter Donovan Harris visited the set of BET’s “American Soul”.
We have been reporting on the action from behind the scenes as crews have been working hard on the upcoming second season nearby our studios in Midtown.
Afros, bell-bottom pants, and disco music marked the 1970s.
The sound of Al Green’s “Love and Happiness” and Donna Summer’s “Bad Girl” reverberated throughout homes during basement parties or on the 8-track in someone’s Plymouth Roadrunner.
Young black men from the south sides of Chicago and Atlanta were drafted and shipped off to fight a war in a foreign land and returned home to fight a war back home—poverty, joblessness and a lack of education.
Many were just kids when they left but returned with physical and mental scars that forced them to become men.
A black renaissance was brewing in the nation—Afrocentrism and the rise of black Americans in the arts and media. Through the cultural shifts and presidential scandals of the day, a soundtrack underscored and gave the times a rhythm, a pulse—a heartbeat.
“Soul Train” was that soundtrack.
The late Don Cornelius was the mastermind behind the television dance series “Soul Train.”
Even though the show’s inception was decades before my arrival on this planet, its reverberations are felt.
No family gathering or party is incomplete without a “Soul Train line” and I grew up riding in the backseat of my parents’ car singing and humming along to the sounds of artists that they danced to in their youth.
The BET show “American Soul” brings those memories back to life.
When I stepped on to the set of “American Soul”, I could sense an air of excitement as production assistants and stagehands worked to ensure a solid production.
Series leads Jason Dirden and Sinqua Walls spoke to me about what it means to be part of a show that is an icon of 1970s Black culture and the larger American culture.
They said “Soul Train” paved the path for them to have the careers they have now as black actors on a national cable network.
The “American Soul” set visit served as a reminded me that legacy only gets deeper and richer with time.
“It was like a whole house party every Saturday,” Dirden laughed.
The Morehouse alum said that he is enjoying working on the show in Atlanta.
“The movement of what Atlanta is that entrepreneurial spirit. It kind of runs parallel with the story of 'Soul Train' and Don Cornelius,” Dirden said. “I call Atlanta like my second home. So, to be able to come back, and work on such a historical project, it means a lot to me.”
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