Tony Cornelius - 5th anniversary of the Soul Train Cruise
Tony Cornelius returns to the Soul Train Cruise next year as the official host of the Hippest Trip at Sea, welcoming everyone each night prior to the main show theatre along with personally hosting VH1’s Hippest Trip In America screening breakfast, and the exciting Don Corneilus Tribute.
Q: What did you think when StarVista LIVE pitched the idea of a cruise?
Tony: When I was approached by Soul Train Cruise Executive Producer Michael Mitchell of StarVista, my first thought was how interesting it would be to introduce Soul Train and its legacy not only by land but by sea. I also realized that a themed cruise of this nature could bring an excitement never before experienced in the cruise business.
Q: What do you think of the artists that have performed so far?
Tony: What can I say about all of the many artists who have sailed with us! They've always supported us from the very beginning. Gladys Knight, Smokey Robinson and Chaka Kahn just to name a few. Our audience has always appreciated and loved these talented individuals.
Q: What are a few of your favorite moments from the last 5 years?
Tony: Most of my favorite moments have been working with the StarVista LIVE staff. Being able to give our passengers a safe 7-day, 5 year musical experience has been a dream. However, as it relates to a moment, the 2013 inaugural cruise in honor of my father and the Soul Train legacy was emotional. Lastly, the naming of the The Don Cornelius Foundation as the official Charity of the Soul Train Cruise has also been a highlight. In the tradition of Don Cornelius's visionary spirit, The Don Cornelius Foundation (DCF) was established to provide awareness, prevention and support for those contemplating suicide and survivors who have lost loved ones due to suicide. DCF is committed to identifying and supporting programs assisting those in transitions, and in need of healing. The Foundation's advocacy is dedicated to cultural sensitive awareness, prevention and providing financial support to increasing the awareness of suicide prevention programs.
Q: Your father was such a special influence in the lives of so many artists. Have any of the artists told you some stories about him that you hadn’t ever heard?
Tony: There is one story I hear over and over again from all of the artists: that without Soul Train, there would be no opportunity for black artists of today. Soul Train was the launching pad for our brand of music for decades. They also talk about how fearless and passionate my father was about their craft and his business.
Q: Soul Train ran on TV from 1971 to 2008, nearly 37 years. What was it about the show that enabled it to touch so many generations?
Tony: From my perspective, when a show has run for over 37 years, it becomes part of our fabric. I call it "American Soul". From generation to generation, hearing the music reminds you of where you were during that time. It’s nostalgic, a feeling you get when think about your past.
Q: What projects are you working on these days? Tell us about them
Tony: Currently, I'm developing some personal projects as well as executive producing the Soul Train musical. I'm also in talks with BET in developing a Soul Train dance series. I've also been approached to develop a movie and/or TV series on the life of my father and Soul Train.
Q: We understand that your daughter Christina is attending Harvard and playing volleyball there. Tell us how she is doing. How often do you get to see her play?
Tony: The love of my life to say the least. Here's a young lady who has benefited from all the hard work my family has put in for decades. To her own credit, she has excelled beyond my wildest dreams academically as well as athletically. Currently attending Harvard University, I often get to see her play volleyball during the season. Some of my best memories were watching her and my father laughing together.