Don Cornelius gave artists who had been segregated from most mainstream vehicles of expression a chance to perform in front of a huge national audience.
It was a tremendous opportunity that changed their careers and the whole music industry. To win a Soul Train Music Award meant that the most sophisticated tastemakers in the world loved your work.
One of my first trips to L.A. was to have Kurtis Blow perform on Soul Train. Words cannot accurately describe what it meant to me to stand a few feet away from this iconic figure. We were two broke kids from the hood, and here we were in Hollywood, standing five feet away from one of the greatest music legends there was.
I speak a lot about my first time traveling out of the country to Amsterdam as an amazing moment when I was young, but there was no bigger experience in my life than being on Soul Train. It meant that we had arrived. It meant everything. Eventually I would see him out in Beverly Hills in his cool Rolls Royce convertible ... to me, he was the epitome of black excellence.
Words cannot describe how much he meant and how many ways he contributed to the landscape of hip-hop and R&B. He will be missed and always revered.
- Russell Simmons