Mr. SOUL!: Hillman Grad Productions & Def Jam Records Release SoundtrackBy Taylor Edwards
Sep. 11 2021, Published 7:27 p.m. ET
SOUL!, from 1968 to 1973, 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.
An instant hit, the Mr. SOUL! documentary adaptation aired on HBO MAX on August 22. Now, Lena Waithe’s Hillman Grad Productions and Def Jam Recordings release its official soundtrack. Available on all streaming platforms, the soundtrack features legends Patti LaBelle, Donny Hathaway, Delfonics, and much more.
The original 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.
“Before Oprah … before Arsenio,” there was SOUL!, America’s first “Black Tonight Show,” whose mission was to provide national television exposure for the exploding spectrum of Black literature, poetry, music, and politics that was taking hold in the tumultuous late-’60s and ’70s.
With participants’ recollections and illuminating archival clips, the documentary special captures a critical moment in culture whose impact continues to resonate, and an unsung hero whose voice we need now more than ever to restore the SOUL of a nation.
Released in advance of the MR. SOUL! album was the newly recorded single + video “Show Me Your Soul,” a collaboration by multiple-Grammy® winners Lalah Hathaway and multi-talented musician-producer Robert Glasper. Featured in the film, the song also serves as the opening track of the MR. SOUL! soundtrack.
Many legends of that era can claim their first national television appearance was on Hazlip’s show, including some artists on the soundtrack. Ellis Haizlip offered his guests a raw and authentic stage, one of the first venues to provide expanded images of African Americans on television. He shifted the gaze from inner-city poverty and violence to the vibrancy of the multi-faceted Black Arts Movement.
MR. SOUL: MUSIC FROM AND INSPIRED BY THE MOTION PICTURE track listing:
1. Lalah Hathaway & Robert Glasper – Show Me Your Soul
2. Donny Hathaway – The Ghetto
3. Charles Wright – Express Yourself
4. Patti LaBelle – Over the Rainbow
5. Hugh Masekela – Grazing in the Grass
6. Gladys Knight and the Pips – If I Were Your Woman
7. Delfonics – Didn’t I Blow Your Mind
8. Billy Taylor – I Wish I Knew (How It Would Feel To Be Free)
9. Kool & the Gang – Chocolate Buttermilk
With participants’ recollections and illuminating archival clips, Mr. SOUL! captures a critical moment in culture whose impact continues to resonate, and an unsung hero whose voice we need now more than ever to restore the SOUL of a nation.
Watch Mr. SOUL! on HBO MAX