Tony Cornelius Opens Up About His Father’s Suicide and Keeping the ‘Soul Train’ Legacy Alive

Love, peace, and soul

“I’m Don Cornelius, and as always in parting, we wish you love, peace, and soul!”

That was the signature line that Donald “Don” Cornelius recited when closing out Soul Train, a groundbreaking weekly broadcast that revolutionized television. For black folks in the ’70s, “love, peace, and soul” became a mantra that personified their hopes and dreams for true freedom, while the iconic musical showcase introduced a mainstream audience to the rhythm, creativity, and talent within the African American community. It also served as a vehicle for economic empowerment for Cornelius, the show’s creator, executive producer, and original host.

After serving in the U.S. Marines, working a variety of odd jobs, and getting a gig as a local radio host in Chicago, Cornelius launched Soul Train in Chicago in 1970. By 1971, the show moved to Los Angeles and became a nationally syndicated sensation that ran up until 2006. In addition to highlighting famed African American singers and local teenage dancers, Soul Train became a brand that spawned Soul Train Records in 1975, The Soul Train Music Awards, and the Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards.

Tragically, Cornelius committed suicide in 2012 at the age of 75. Now, his son, Anthony “Tony” Cornelius, is helping to shed light on his father’s journey in creating one of the longest-running shows in TV history through a new series called American Soul. The 10-episode series, which premieres on BET Feb. 5, offers viewers who grew up watching Soul Train a captivating dose of nostalgia while introducing a new generation to a program that changed the course of black history.

Don’s Soul 

Soul Train

Actor Sinqua Walls as Don Cornelius from BET’s “American Soul” (Photo: Daniel McFadden/BET)

“Little known fact: my father always wanted to do a Soul Train movie,” said Anthony, who serves as one of the executive producers on the series, to BLACK ENTERPRISE.

According to the show’s description, American Soul unfolds the trials and tribulations that his father encountered while creating Soul Train “against the backdrop of an unforgiving Hollywood in the 1970s.” It also chronicles the “rise and fall” that he took in his personal life.

The series opens with a chilling scene of Cornelius’ last moments on earth on Feb. 1, 2012. That day changed Anthony’s life and outlook on mental illness. “I always thought suicide was for people who could not handle life—never even imagining that one day I would actually be talking about it…and experience someone in my family who committed suicide.”

The tragedy and a subsequent conversation he had with Stevie Wonder moved him to launch The Don Cornelius Foundation Inc., a nonprofit organization that works to identify and support programs that provide awareness, prevention, and support for those contemplating suicide along with support to those who have lost loved ones from suicide. “I spoke to him days after my father’s death and he gave me some inspiration to stand up and talk about it,” he recalled of his conversation with the legendary singer.

Anthony was also appointed last year to sit on the board of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, where he advocates for mental health. According to the American Psychiatric Association, only one-third of black Americans who need mental healthcare receive it, while lack of culturally competent counseling deters many from seeking care.

“Many times, a lot of black men don’t have anywhere to turn. We struggle with our feelings,” said Anthony. “A lot of black folks go to the church for their soothing of their mental capacity, which is fine, but many times it gets even more complicated,” he added. “There are professionals out there who can diagnose the problem. It’s about education.”

American Soul gives viewers a look at some of the warning signs of someone in mental distress by presenting a different side of Cornelius and the empire he built.

“My father’s legacy will continue to live on—it’s living right now,” he said.

American Soul

Kelly Price

Still of Kelly Price as Brianne Clarke from BET’s “American Soul” (Annette Brown/BET)

Grammy-nominated R&B singer Kelly Price says starring in American Soul is a full circle moment for her. After releasing her debut album in 1998, she made her television debut on Soul Train. At the time, her hit single “Friend of Mine” had charted as No. 1 on the U.S. R&B chart, however, her label was apprehensive to reveal her appearance due to her weight and dark complexion. “I had a No. 1 record in the country and nobody had seen what I looked like,” Price told BE. “The first time everybody got a chance to see me was on Soul Train on a Saturday morning,” she says. “Don Cornelius was the first person to present me to the world on a national stage.”

Price also received her first award as a singer and songwriter at the 1999 Soul Train Music Awards. “Now, the first time that people will actually see me take on a chunky acting role will be a part of the telling of the Don Cornelius story.”

Sinqua Walls, who portrays Cornelius in American Soul, says he is carrying the Soul Train legacy “with a tremendous amount of pride.” He recognizes Cornelius as more than just an iconic TV host, but also as an entrepreneur and a visionary. “We always say, when you have a dream, follow it and don’t let anyone detract from it. And Don is a testament to that. Not only did he do it as a man creating a TV show, but he did it as a black man in 1970s trying to pitch a show that no one had ever done before to an audience that didn’t always want to see him. And he stayed steadfast in his dreams.”

American Soul kicks off on Tuesday, February 5 at 9 p.m. ET on BET.



 


Editor’s Note: This story was updated on Feb. 5, 2019, for clarity.

The post Tony Cornelius Opens Up About His Father’s Suicide and Keeping the ‘Soul Train’ Legacy Alive appeared first on Black Enterprise.

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The Week in Movie News: Sundance Buzz, ‘The Batman’ and ‘Suicide Squad 2’ Updates and More

The Week in Movie News: Sundance Buzz, 'The Batman' and 'Suicide Squad 2' Updates and More

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BIG NEWS

DC's The Batman and Suicide Squad 2 get release dates: Ben Affleck was confirmed to be exiting the role of Batman and James Gunn was confirmed as the director of Suicide Squad 2 as DC updated their release calendar to include The Batman and the Suicide Squad sequel both arriving in 2021. Read all about what DC has in store the next few…

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Pete Davidson Jokes About Suicide Threat With John Mulaney on SNL

NBC

When we last saw Pete Davidson on Saturday Night Live before the holidays, he was introducing Miley Cyrus as musical guest. It was the 25-year-old comedian’s way of letting viewers know that he was OK—and perhaps not yet ready to perform comedy—after threatening suicide on Instagram and prompting both the NYPD and ex-fiancée Ariana Grande to show up at 30 Rock to confirm he was safe.

Davidson was back in fighting shape this week on the show’s first episode of 2019, appearing in several sketches including the cold open next to Alec Baldwin’s Donald Trump. But when he sat down for one of his frequent appearances on “Weekend Update” towards the end of the episode, he didn’t really want to talk about everything that went down.

“As you know, I’ve had a really crazy month and I want to talk about something that matters a lot to me,” Davidson said. When Colin Jost asked if he was talking about “mental health,” he said no. He wanted to talk about Clint Eastwood’s The Mule.

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Pete Davidson Jokes About Suicide Threat With John Mulaney on SNL

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When we last saw Pete Davidson on Saturday Night Live before the holidays, he was introducing Miley Cyrus as musical guest. It was the 25-year-old comedian’s way of letting viewers know that he was OK—and perhaps not yet ready to perform comedy—after threatening suicide on Instagram and prompting both the NYPD and ex-fiancée Ariana Grande to show up at 30 Rock to confirm he was safe.

Davidson was back in fighting shape this week on the show’s first episode of 2019, appearing in several sketches including the cold open next to Alec Baldwin’s Donald Trump. But when he sat down for one of his frequent appearances on “Weekend Update” towards the end of the episode, he didn’t really want to talk about everything that went down.

“As you know, I’ve had a really crazy month and I want to talk about something that matters a lot to me,” Davidson said. When Colin Jost asked if he was talking about “mental health,” he said no. He wanted to talk about Clint Eastwood’s The Mule.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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Nurse Alice: When Your Help isn’t Wanted with Suicide Prevention

Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels is reportedly sending Pete Davidson to “get help” after the comedian posted a now-deleted suicidal message online, hours before the show aired on NBC recently. And from the sounds of it, Davidson is going along with recommendations.

i really don’t want to be on this earth anymore. i’m doing my best to stay here for you but I actually don’t know how much longer I can last, read the actor’s cryptic Instagram post.

Davidson was confirmed to be fine Saturday by the New York Police Department, which visited NBC Studios to check up on him following the alarming post. He briefly appeared on SNL when he introduced musical guests Miley Cyrus, Mark Ronson, and Sean Ono Lennon.

His friend, rapper Machine Gun Kelly, rushed to New York City to support and be by Davidson’s side. Kelly wasn’t the only one who rushed to Davidson’s side over the weekend, however. A source told Us Weekly on Monday that pop star Ariana Grande, the comic’s ex-fiancée, showed up to NBC Studios, too, but Davidson refused to see her. Sources also say he even changed his phone number after the break up to further distance himself from Grande.

Earlier this month, Davidson stated on Instagram that he’d been bullied for months both before and after his split from Grande in October. He said he’d spoken about his borderline personality disorder and about “being suicidal publicly only in the hopes that it will bring awareness and help kids like myself who don’t want to be on this earth.”


Rejected Help

We can only imagine that Grande was hyper-concerned by Davidson’s concerning tweets, especially since her other ex-boyfriend, rapper Mac Miller, died earlier this year. But what do you do when your help is rejected?

It is possible that you can say all the right things and your friend will still be upset with you. Each person is an individual with unique thoughts and feelings, and being angry and upset is the nature of depression. Sometimes people will lash out at those trying to help them because they are hurting and don’t know where to direct those bad feelings. Whoever is nearby becomes a convenient target and, as a result, they may direct anger toward you and reject your assistance. And something else that you have to consider is: Could you have in any way contributed to their unhappy feelings? If so, this may be another reason why they are not receptive to your offers of help.

If this happens, try not to take it personally. Stay calm and continue to do what you can to love and support your friend in whatever way they will allow. According to board-certified psychiatrist Dr. Nicole Washington, “If you do find yourself on the receiving end of an angry reaction, just give that person space. This is not the time to argue, reason, or explain why you did what you did. Maybe once everyone involved has cooled down, a discussion can be held where you both get to express your views of what happened.”

Washington goes on to say that if this is able to occur, take this time to talk through what is helpful for them and what is not so that you know how to better respond to them in the future during these times.

The priority is that the distressed person gets the help they need, even if it isn’t from you. So don’t get salty and turn a blind eye if this happens; rather, continue to be supportive. These can be awkward, complex, and even challenging situations, but focus on the individual’s safety. If the person is in immediate danger – don’t leave them alone, call 911 and get help. Make sure to be on the lookout for warning signs of suicide and know when to seek help from others, even in cases when your help is rejected.

The post Nurse Alice: When Your Help isn’t Wanted with Suicide Prevention appeared first on Black Enterprise.

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Mel B Opens Up About Her Suicide Attempt

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Melanie “Mel B” Brown reveals in her new memoir “Brutally Honest” that she attempted suicide in December 2014 by swallowing 200 aspirin.

The Sun reports that Brown writes in the book that the drama with her ex, Stephen Belafonte, made her feel like quitting life all together.

“I felt ugly and detested by the very man who once promised to love and protect me, my husband and manager Stephen. A man who after ten years of marriage now had a library of sex tapes that could — as we both well knew — ruin my career and destroy my family,” she recalled.

It was her second attempt, following one made at age 14.

Brown reveals that she downed 200 pills in an effort to end it all.

“Here I am, 39 years of age, staring in a mirror in the en-suite bathroom of my rented house in Kensington, London, holding an open bottle of aspirin from the stash I’ve stockpiled over the years, putting one pill after another into my mouth,” she writes. “As each pill goes into my mouth, I ask myself: ‘Are you sure?’ And I take another one. Ten, 20, 50, 100. ‘Are you sure?’”

Brown realized she didn’t want to die after ingesting the aspirin and as she was regaining consciousness in a hospital, her “furious” daughter, Phoenix, demanded to know: “Why, Mum? Why? Why?”

“It was the saddest moment of my life,” the Spice Girl shares.

Brown and Belafonte finalized their divorce in December of last year.

“Brutally Honest,” Mel’s book  is available now. 

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Did Alt-Right Brothers Plan Pittsburgh-Style Attack Before Suicide?

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New court documents have shed fresh light on a possible plot in Washington, D.C., planned for the same day as the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre in October.

The case centers on 23-year-old Edward William Clark, who killed himself on Washington’s isolated Roosevelt Island on Oct. 27, just hours after the synagogue shooting allegedly perpetrated by Robert Bowers.

Clark, according to relatives interviewed by the FBI, believed in a “race revolution” and “wanted to expedite it.”

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http://www.acrx.org -As millions of Americans strive to deal with the economic downturn,loss of jobs,foreclosures,high cost of gas,and the rising cost of prescription drug cost. Charles Myrick ,the President of American Consultants Rx, announced the re-release of the American Consultants Rx community service project which consist of millions of free discount prescription cards being donated to thousands of not for profits,hospitals,schools,churches,etc. in an effort to assist the uninsured,under insured,and seniors deal with the high cost of prescription drugs.-American Consultants Rx -Pharmacy Discount Network News

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The Week in Movie News: James Gunn Writing ‘Suicide Squad 2,’ First ‘Pet Sematary’ Trailer and More

The Week in Movie News: James Gunn Writing 'Suicide Squad 2,' First 'Pet Sematary' Trailer and More

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BIG NEWS

James Gunn to write and maybe direct Suicide Squad 2: Following his departure from Disney and Marvel Studios, Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn has joined the Worlds of DC franchise for the Suicide Squad sequel as screenwriter and possibly director. Read everything we know about that here. 

 

GREAT NEWS

Margot Robbie takes over…

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Verne Troyer’s death ruled a suicide by L.A. County coroner

Actor Verne Troyer’s death has been ruled a suicide by the Los Angeles County Coroner.

The “Austin Powers” star’s cause of death was listed as “sequelae of alcohol intoxication” and the manner of death a suicide in a report released Wednesday.

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Various…

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Tina Turner reveals how she planned for assisted suicide after cancer diagnosis but was saved by her husband’s kidney

TINA TURNER has revealed she was so ill she considered assisted suicide — until her husband saved her life by donating his kidney.

The soul icon fell in love with music producer Erwin Bach, 16 years her junior, in 1985 after suffering years of ill-treatment at the hands of ex-lover Ike.

Tina Turner reveals how she found happiness in her new auto-biography My Love Story
Tina Turner reveals how she found happiness in her new auto-biography My Love Story
Getty – Contributor

Tying the knot 28 years later, the singer says their 2013 wedding was one of the happiest days of her life.

But, in her new autobiography — My Love Story, out later this month — Tina, 78, revealed how she started feeling faint during that day as the party gathered for photos.

It was the first sign of an impending stroke.

Just three months later, she woke up and felt a lightning bolt in her head and right leg.

Tina was married to Ike Turner, suffering domestic abuse and reveals she was beaten on the head by a wooden spoon
Tina was married to Ike Turner, suffering domestic abuse and reveals she was beaten on the head by a wooden spoon
1964 GAB Archive

Tina said: “I tried to speak but I couldn’t get any words out.

I was having a stroke.”

It left Tina unable to walk or use her right arm.

And, to add to her troubles, doctors also found she had high blood pressure which left her kidneys working at just 35 per cent of their normal function.

Yet Tina now admits she “foolishly” scuppered her treatment by ditching her medication and instead turned to homeopathy — a decision which almost cost her her life.

Her homeopath had claimed toxins in the water near her Château Algonquin home in Switzerland were damaging her body, so she set about replacing the water pipes and having the water purified by crystals.

‘I was overwhelmed by the enormity of his offer’

But the blunder sapped her strength, leaving her unable to walk from room-to-room.

Another shock diagnosis, early stage intestinal cancer, led to part of her intestine being removed.

By 2016, Tina’s kidney function was down to 20 per cent, leaving her unable to eat.

Tina admits at one point she thought of assisted suicide — legal in Switzerland — and signed up to be a member of Exit, “just in case”.

Ms Turner here poses with her late son Craig who took his own life
Ms Turner here poses with her late son Craig who took his own life
Facebook

She said: “I think that’s when the idea of my death became a reality for Erwin.

He was very emotional about not wanting to lose me, not wanting me to leave.

“He said he didn’t want another woman, or another life; we were happy and he’d do anything to keep us together.

Then he shocked me.

Erwin Bach and Tina married in 2013 after Mr. Bach proposed three times
Erwin Bach and Tina married in 2013 after Mr. Bach proposed three times
Getty – Contributor

“He said he wanted to give me one of his kidneys.

“I was overwhelmed by the enormity of his offer.”

Tina, who has notched up 200million in record sales, is no stranger to struggle.

Hers has been an extraordinary journey, from being an unwanted child picking cotton in the tiny ­segregated backwater of Nutbush, Tennessee, to years of being too afraid to leave her abusive first husband Ike.

When Tina went on stage the first time with Ike she thought he was 'real ugly'
When Tina went on stage the first time with Ike she thought he was ‘real ugly’
Getty – Contributor

She once said: “My struggle started inside my mother’s womb.

I suffered all the way from childhood right up until the end of Ike.

“What kept me on course was me, it was something I was born with.”

In July this year, that strength was tested again.

After she left Ike her career stalled buy then the album Private Dance launched her into the mainstream
After she left Ike her career stalled buy then the album Private Dance launched her into the mainstream
not known check with features

As the chart queen posed for photographers on the red carpet outside a fashion show in Paris, her eldest son Craig, 59, was in Los Angeles, about to turn a gun on himself.

Eight days later, Tina posted a picture of herself scattering her boy’s ashes off the coast of California, accompanied by the words: “My saddest moment as a mother.”

Tina, who was born Anna Mae Bullock, was just 18 years old when she gave birth to Craig in 1958.

She was determined to be a good mother, having been deserted by her own mum Zelma at ten.

Her father left three years later.

Tina performed with Mick Jagger in Live aid to sold out crowds in 1985
Tina performed with Mick Jagger in Live aid to sold out crowds in 1985
Rex Features

The baby’s father was the ­saxophonist in a band she became obsessed with after moving to St Louis, Missouri.

Its frontman was Ike Turner.

One night when she was in the audience, he invited her on stage and, wowed by her voice, later asked her to tour with them.

There was no romantic attraction initially.

Tina has performed at the Grammy's a number of times including sharing the stage with Beyonce in 2008
Tina has performed at the Grammy’s a number of times including sharing the stage with Beyonce in 2008
AP:Associated Press

It was only when she was trying to escape the advances of another musician she found herself in Ike’s bed — even though she knew then: “He wasn’t right for me”. ­

In 1960, the pair had son Ronnie.

Two years later they wed.

In 1966, they hit the big time with single River Deep Mountain High, which hit No3 in the UK.

Ms Turner's singing career began with Ike but after leaving him she became a household name
Ms Turner’s singing career began with Ike but after leaving him she became a household name
AP:Associated Press

More hits followed, along with the first of Tina’s eight Grammy awards.

But at home, she was nothing but a punchbag for cocaine addict Ike.

Describing the first beating at his hands, she recalled: “It was against the head, always against the head.”

But it was not until July 1976 that she finally fled with just 36 cents in her pocket.

Tina performed with Mel Gibson in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome
Tina performed with Mel Gibson in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome
Corbis – Getty

For a few years, her career stalled — but then in 1984 came her solo album Private Dancer.

The album sold 20million copies and gave her her first US No1 ­single with What’s Love Got To Do With It.

In 1985 she starred in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome with Mel Gibson — the same year she met German-born record executive Erwin, after he picked her up at an airport.

Tina recalled: “My heart was going da-dum.


I thought, ‘Oh my God, this is love at first sight.’”

They have been together since. The secret, according to Tina, is simple. She noted a few years ago: “What’s love got to do with it? A lot!”

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