Soul Train History Book: Soul Train Dancers Honored at the 2015 Disco Ball

Soul Train Dancer Awards 1

Photo Credit: Patricia Maureen Photography

History was made on Sunday, March 22, 2015: It was the first time that an awards ceremony was created to present awards to various Soul Train Dancers.

The event was held at the 2015 Disco Ball at the Whiskey A-Go-Go on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, which was one of the clubs many of the Soul Train dancers used to frequent.

The awards presentation was hosted by the Original Bad Girl of Comedy, Luenell, who appeared with Katt Williams in American Hustle as well as other films such as Borat, Romeo Must Die, Think Like A Man, Raising Whitley and other film and television projects.

Soul Train Dancer Awards 2

L to R: Juliette Hagermann, Derek Fleming, Nellie Gonzalez, Freddie Maxie, Louie “Ski” Carr, Damita Jo Freeman and Carole Creekmore. Photo by Charles Washington.

The Disco Ball and the idea for the event honoring the dancers was the brainchild of Brandy Sanders, who herself is a former Soul Train dancer.

“It was a dream come true for me to honor some of the legendary dancers,” Sanders said.

The very first time awards were presented to Soul Train dancers was at the inaugural Soul Train Gang reunion in August 1997, which was created and put together by the late legendary Soul Train Dancer Joseph Chism. At that event, iconic dancers Don Campbell, Patricia Davis, Damita Jo Freeman and Thelma Davis Martin were presented with awards.

Awards were also given to certain dancers at the 2005 Soul Train Dancers Reunion/Christmas Party. There, dancers Lionel Douglass, Deniese Payne, Cheryl Song, Damita Jo Freeman and myself were honored.

The only time that Soul Train dancers were mentioned at the Soul Train Awards was at its second award ceremony in 1988, when Walter Payton (who danced in a 1973 Soul Train dance contest), Damita Jo Freeman, Jody Watley and Gus Lounderman from the group Bus Boys were highlighted.

But the event at this year’s Disco Ball was the first time an actual awards ceremony was put together to specifically honor the dancers.

Over the years, Soul Train has garnered much attention thanks to the many recording artists who performed on the show. However, viewers didn’t tune in to Soul Train just to watch the recording artists, but primarily the dancers; whether it was watching the Lockers work out their acrobatic routines or Jimmy “Scoo B Doo” doing his various eye popping moves, or Patricia Davis doing her outstanding robotic dances and splits or Damita Jo Freeman doing her unique dance steps, Soul Train was a dance show first and foremost.

The Soul Train Dancer honorees at the Disco Ball included Damita Jo Freeman, Carole Creekmore, Deniese Payne, Derek Fleming, Eddie Cole, Juliette Hagerman, King James Brown, Bob Cat, Louie “Ski” Carr, Monique “Que” Chambers, Nellie Gonzalez, Sally Achenbach, Freddie Maxie, Scorpioasmi Spicer, Sin Cysnbidium, Tamechi Toney-Briggs, Thelma Davis-Martin, Alfie Lewis, Sharon Hill-Wood, Edith Pickens, Queenie Turner and Sheila Lewis.

Soul Train Dancers who have passed away over the years were recognized during a memorial tribute, and the children of legends Ray Charles, Barry White, and Side Effect’s Augie Johnson paid tribute to their fathers.

Legendary artists and celebrities in attendance were John “Sly” Wilson of Sly, Slick & Wicked; Gregory Williams of Switch; Maxi Bonds of Rick James’ Mary Jane Girls; Deon Etus of Wham; Mark Wood of Lakeside; Tomi Jenkins of Cameo; Jon Jon Harreld of Troop, Ernest “Raj” Thomas from What’s Happening and Everybody Hates Chris; Porscha Coleman of The Parkers; and Tyrone DuBose of Timeless Traxx and UnSung.

Legendary music man Stevo Devosion was the host emcee. There was also a special performance by the One House Band featuring Rhandi James, and Nu Skool Sings Old School Star Performers Hanani Taylor, Noah Jay and Anthony Paul made a special appearance.

A portion of the proceeds from the Disco Ball honoring the Soul Train Dancers was donated to Nu Skool Sings Old School Sizzling Summer Showcases, a series of live showcases with talented kids paying tribute to the music of the sixties, seventies and eighties.

“Our kids perform favorite R&B, soul, funk, jazz, blues, classic rock, old gospel and Broadway hit songs,” said Sanders. “Nu Skool Sings Old School is where you can see these young artists exhibit their talents and showcase their vocal artistry while taking another step closer to pursuing their dreams. Our focus is to create a new generation of legendary entertainers that sing and perform music that is uplifting, joyful, celebratory, positive and soulful.”

Sanders added, “If you’ve never seen a Nu Skool Sings Old School show, you are missing a rare treat. We’ve got the baddest old school kids on the planet. They will blow you away! These kids don’t only sing, they sang!”

Portions from the proceeds of all the Nu Skool Sings Old School concerts benefit underserved children all over the world.

Disco Ball 2016 will present the next Soul Train Dancers award presentation on March 19, 2016.

The red carpet portion of the event was covered and hosted by Davi Davenport of the Davi Davenport show which airs on Time Warner 36. The red carpet event will be televised this week.

-Stephen McMillian

Journalist, actor, filmmaker, dancer, performer, writer, poet, historian and choreographer. That’s Stephen McMillian.

4 Comments

  1. Rita Hernandez Ireland says:

    Wow very fond memories of my partner Javier and i danced on Soul Train 1977 My partner and I danced Disco Style with spins, lifts and dips. It was a pleasure to be asked to come back again. I only remember dancing to Evelyn Champagne King #271/1977, Freda Payne, Atlantic Star # 273/1977 and forgot the rest. I was 17-years old with super long hair my self. I enjoyed most dancing on the side stages and soul train line getting our Grove on. Dancing was my life from 16-years old I danced any place I was invited. I continued to dance in many contest Disco Style with some Freestyle grove. I’d love to come to a reunion some day! warmly, Rita

  2. Patty says:

    Thanks for using my image for your article… to check out more pics from the Disco Ball 2015 check out http://www.patriciamaureenphotography.com/Disco-Ball-Boogie-Nights-event

  3. Stephen McMillian says:

    Thank you so much Juliette! I will make every effort to attend.

  4. Juliette Hagerman says:

    Well done Steve, hope to see you there next year!

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