The legacy of Soul Train and the opportunities it provided for the world to witness some of the greatest talents and entertainers will forever be imprinted on the hearts of us all.
The global impact of Don Cornelius and the Soul Train brand continues to escalate and nurture artists within the realm of entertainment promoting social positivity.
With this purpose in mind, the Soul Train Impact showcase, produced by Teena Sloane-Hendricks was the perfect intro to a Friday morning on September 20th at Columbia College Chicago. The sound of soul from voices of rising artists was enough to soothe the headaches of the week and relax our ears with refreshing artistry.
Hosted by Anita Bennett, who also served as the event’s co-producer and Nicoh David, Bennett expressed that events as such are important because they “utilize the arts to create an artistic impact on the world in order to end violence.”
She added that a solution to the negativity that surrounds us daily is to “attack with positivity.”
This year’s Soul Train Impact Showcase was an intimate gathering with performances from new voices in Chicago’s R&B music scene. In addition, the career of the legendary band Earth, Wind and Fire was highlighted with a very open Q &A session with bass player Verdine White, moderated by Krissy “First Lady” Raye.
Earth, Wind, and Fire has recorded a total of 40 albums, 21 of which were studio albums including the latest release “Now, Then & Forever” and the fellas continue to perform to sold out arenas and theaters all over the world. “We’re like this group that makes an album every five years, sell out concerts, and then leaves,” Verdine spoke candidly with a chuckle. “A lot of critics don’t know how to describe us, and we’re fine with that!”
White noted that when it comes to creativity, in order for things to begin to happen you have to enter with an open-mind. “We’re not born original,” he said. “You find styles and paths that speak to you and create from there.”
Cue in the talent that graced us with their voices through song: Mar’wan, Justin Ruff, De’Borah and Aniba Hotep and The Sol Collective. Originality, style and talent are signs that these artists are on the path of creating their music identities.
Singer/songwriter, Mar’wan hit the stage performing his current single, Eternally. New to the scene, Mar’wan is signed to TwoGuard Media, a label headed by 20-year music industry veteran Kevin Ross. He dubs his style, “Soul Flow” and once you hear his silky tones matched with love-laced lyrics – it all makes sense.
Windy City Live’s talent search finalist, Justin Ruff proved just why he deserved one of the top spots. His performance was experimentally flawless. Backed by one female vocalist and a bass player, Justin’s stage aura set a certain high-standard for up and coming artists, everywhere. Having recently released his EP, “Introducing Justin Ruff”, he teased us with a three-song medley of what the EP offers. Successfully flexing his falsetto during a performance of “Take My Time”, Justin gave us a youthful yet sophisticated Maxwell/Prince delivery leaving a lasting impression.
Many of us can recall the soulful and energertic-fueled performances from NBC’s The Voice Finalist, De’Borah. Not only did her voice put judges and viewers in awe, but her style stood out amongst many of her counterparts. It is without doubt that she was made for the stage and performance. A Chicago native, she continues to belt out and bless us with her power chords and one-up us all when it comes to dope and signature style. Sick and all, she killed Cee-Lo Green’s ‘Crazy” adding her own twist to the vocal arrangement. Energy took a leap once she hit the stage.
And then enters Aniba Hotep & The Sol Collective. Whew! This eight-piece band is simply and incredible when it comes to talent and presentation. Winners of TV One’s UNSUNG Contest, The Sol Collective remixed the soul classic, “Sweet Thang” by fellow Chicago native Chaka Khan. Their style fuses soul with funk nuances and dashes of sass.
Soul Train Impact provides the tools to motivate and cultivate young people by providing the skills to develop, educate, and build relationships to secure their future endeavors.
Music is universal and through it so many social changes can bloom. Be responsible with your art and create an impacting journey.