EXCLUSIVE: We’ll be seeing a slew of music industry icons and visionaries portrayed in the upcoming second season of American Soul, the Don Cornelius-infused period drama, set for premiere on BET in 2020.
American Soul takes an unflinching look at the entrepreneur, his Soul Train dancers, crew and musicians in an unforgiving Hollywood in the 1970’s – how they work, play, rise and fall against the backdrop of Soul Train — “the hippest trip in America” and one of the most predominant television shows for African American culture.
Inspired by the personal trials and professional successes of a young, ambitious and troubled impressario Cornelius, season two of the period drama picks up two years later in 1975. As Don, played by Sinqua Walls, becomes a rising star, he continues to manage an assortment of spectacular talent that comes to his show, a shaky family life, personal health and perhaps most importantly, his own ego.
A. Zell Williams, Playwright & 'American Soul' Scribe, Signs With Verve
In addition to Walls, American Soul stars Kelly Price, Jason Dirden, Iantha Richardson, Katlyn Nichol and Christopher Jefferson.
Guest stars set for Season 2 include Darius McCrary (Family Matters) as James Brown, Alex Ball (NCIS) as Dick Clark, Hudson Thames (Mad Men) as Elton John, Tone Bell (Fam) as Richard Pryor, Demetria McKinney (House of Payne) as June Pointer, London Brown (Ballers) as Bootsy Collins, D.C. Young Fly (Grown-ish) as Sly Stone, Big Boi (The Bobby DeBarge Story) as George Clinton, Ledisi (Selma) as Patti LaBelle, Melanie Fiona (The Bronze) as Chaka Khan, Yung Joc (Step Up) as Gary Shider, and Christopher B. Duncan (Black Lightning) as Ray Bradley, Kearran Giovanni (Major Crimes) is set for a recurring role as Ruby Daniels.
McCrary’s James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, makes an appearance on Soul Train with his band.
Thames’ Elton John is a young British rock star in Los Angeles at the infamous Chateau Marmont eager to meet Don. When Don gets to the hotel, Elton begs to be on Soul Train and asks for an audition.
Ball’s Dick Clark is the host of American Bandstand. He and Don are basically in the same business – only Dick has already been in the game for 15 years. He makes nice when he runs into Don on the Soul Train lot, but he’s ready to lash out and let Don know who the top dog in the conversation is.
McKinney’s June Pointer is the hot-headed, trouble making member of the legendary Pointer Sisters.
Brown’s Bootsy Collins is a vibrantly attired, colorful character who is a famous member of George Clinton’s band, Parliament-Funkadelic. He used to work with James Brown and cracks jokes at his expense when Brown shows up at Clinton’s rehearsal in a huff.
Bell’s Richard Pryor, smart, quick, outrageous and crude, is a brilliant comedian who’s famous for his irreverent acts that are peppered with extremely bad words. Richard is a guest host of Soul Train where he knows he has to watch his language and behavior. Behind the scenes, however, he doesn’t.
D.C. Young Fly’s Sly Stone is the very eclectic, but often troubled front man of Sly and the Family Stone. He strolls into Soul Train to meet Don with his band, which includes a black llama. He also has a reputation of leaving before he does his show.
Giovanni’s Ruby Daniels is a beautiful femme fatale with ties to the mob. She’s a deadly acquaintance of Gerald Aims and has come to town to fill the void left by another mobster’s death. Though Don comes to know Ruby as a savior to his beloved Soul Train, Gerald knows her true intentions and fears she will surely thwart his efforts in becoming a legit businessman.
Big Boi is George Clinton, who, wearing a fur vest and star-shaped shades, appears in a purple haze at a recording studio to rehearse with Parliament-Funkadelic and two of James Brown’s band members.
Ledisi’s Patti and LaBelle perform on “Soul Train,” but the band performs to a music track while Patti sings live. Patti gets into a little riff with Tessa over her drummer’s attitude.
Fiona’s Chaka Khan is the talented, charismatic lead singer of the funk band Rufus and appears with them on “Soul Train” singing “Once You Get Started.”
Yung Joc’s Gary Shider is a guitarist with Parliament-Funkadelic who is famous for wearing an “adult diaper” in his performances. When he offers to give the furious James Brown a shiatsu massage to calm down, Brown almost explodes.
Duncan’s Ray Bradley is a kind, down-to earth man who has adopted JT’s little sister Aiya after she ended up in the system.
Produced by Jesse Collins Entertainment, American Soul is created by Devon Greggory and Jonathan Prince. Judith McCreary will serve as showrunner. Jesse Collins, Prince, Greggory and Tony Cornelius executive produce. Andrew J. Horne and Dionne Harmon are co-executive producers.
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