MR. SOUL: MUSIC FROM AND INSPIRED BY THE MOTION PICTURE arrived on all platforms yesterday via Hillman Grad Records/Def Jam Recordings. The all-star soundtrack, with classic soul/R&B tracks from Donny Hathaway, Patti LaBelle, Hugh Masekela, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Delfonics, Kool & the Gang, and others, is a celebration of the award-winning new documentary film created by Melissa Haizlip and executive produced by Lena Waithe, Blair Underwood, Chaz Ebert ,Rishi Rajani. Ron Gillyard, Stan Lathan, and Stephanie T. Rance, that pays tribute to SOUL!, the groundbreaking 1968-1973 public television variety show guided by its enigmatic producer and host Ellis Haizlip. MR. SOUL!, winner of a 2021 Critics Choice Award, NAACP Image Award, and many other film festivals and critical honors, is currently streaming on HBO Max.
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. (Please see the complete track listing below.)
“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. 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 an unfiltered, uncompromising 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.
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.