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Before Oprah, before Arsenio, there was Mr. SOUL! Groundbreaking TV host Ellis Haizlip ensured the Revolution would be televised with SOUL!, America’s first “Black Tonight Show.”


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.



"Broad in scope and rapidly paced, the film can feel as if it’s bursting at the seams. It acutely conveys the radical joy that SOUL! inspired, barely contained in the movie’s running time." — New York Times

  • Year
    2018
  • Runtime
    99 minutes
  • Language
    English
  • Country
    United States
  • Director
    Melissa Haizlip
  • Cinematographer
    Hans Charles
  • Composer
    Robert Glasper