Our good friends at GROOVESCOOTER are presenting the Australian Premiere of the documentary Mr. SOUL! at Golden Age Cinema this monthon the pionerring TV host Ellis Haizlip who hosted New York city’s SOUL show with an incredible mix of A-list music guests, poetry, performance and Black politics three years before SOUL TRAIN.
America’s first “Black Tonight Show” was New York City’s SOUL!, with its host Ellis Haizlip ensuring the revolution would be televised! This critically acclaimed documentary features rare live performances and interviews from the likes of the legendary Al Green, Gladys Knight, Stevie Wonder, Earth Wind & Fire, Ashford and Simpson, Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, Black Ivory, Bill Withers, The Last Poets, Odetta, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Nikki Giovanni, Merry Clayton, Mandrill, Kool & the Gang, Toni Morrison, Stokely Carmichael, Patti LaBelle, Roberta Flack, Muhammad Ali, Sidney Poitier, and many more. Launched in 1968, SOUL! went on to be the first nationally broadcast all-Black variety show on television, merging artists from the margins with post–civil rights Black radical thought. At a time of great turmoil and social unrest in America, SOUL! became a platform for political expression and the fight for social justice. By 1973, Ellis Haizlip had produced over 130 hour-long shows featuring a dazzling array of A-list guests.
WHY YOU SHOULD SEE THIS FILM
From 1968 to 1973, the public-television variety show SOUL!, guided by the enigmatic producer and host Ellis Haizlip, offered an unfiltered, uncompromising celebration of black literature, poetry, music, and politics—voices that had few other options for national exposure, and, as a result, found the program an improbable place to call home. The series was among the first to provide expanded images of African Americans on television, shifting the gaze from inner-city poverty and violence to the vibrancy of the Black Arts Movement. With participants’ recollections and a bevy of great archival clips, Mr. SOUL! captures a critical moment in culture whose impact continues to resonate. Featuring Questlove, Harry Belafonte, James Baldwin, Kathleen Cleaver and many more. The soundtrack features original performances from the SOUL! series and new artists Robert Glasper performing original music score. The story unfolds with Blair Underwood as the voice of Ellis Haizlip, in a series of vignettes that are both poignant and intimate, revealing the interiority of Haizlip’s thoughts and the impetus behind Mr SOUL!.