MR. SOUL - Compelling Documentary

From 1968 -1973 Ellis Haizlip created, produced, and hosted a public television variety show that was broadcast nationwide called “SOUL!” This came before Soul Train and other Black variety shows and was more influential on the Black Movement than any show before and after.

I must admit that when I began watching is film for this review, I was expecting something good, but I did not expect a film that would keep me captivated for an hour and half and wishing for more.

Ellis Haizlip was a man who had a love for and was well known as a supporter of the Arts. When he created the television show SOUL, he wanted it to be a show on the Black Experience and a place where the Black community felt as if they belong.

Chaz Ebert is one of the Executive Producers, and Actor Blair Underwood serves as one of the film’s executive producers and narrates, providing the voice for Ellis Haizlip’s sentiments. Melissa Haizlip is the Producer, Director, and Writer of the film. She is also the niece of Ellis.

“Making the film helped us illuminate the groundbreaking cultural work of the man behind one of the most successful and socially significant, Black-produced television shows in U.S. history,” said director Haizlip. “We’re beyond honored for the acknowledgements and excited about any nominations that will serve as a way of introducing the film, the music, and Ellis Haizlip to the world. ‘SOUL!’ is the greatest show you’ve never heard of. And up until now, Ellis Haizlip has been an unsung hero. We hope our film ‘Mr. SOUL!’ and the music it celebrates will help to change that.”

I am one who loves the art of the interview process. In this documentary I am in awe.  One the show SOUL, two interviews that stick out to me are, a young Nikki Giovanni interviewing author James Baldwin, and Ellis Haizlip interviewing Minister Farrakhan on homosexuality. 

SOUL was not one dimensional by any means. Actors, dancers, poets, musicians, activists were all welcomed to the stage. The Last Poets recited “Nigger Die” with no interruptions.

“The Black Arts Movement featured timeless talents, such as Sidney Poitier, Maya Angelou, James Baldwin, Al Green, Muhammad Ali, Cicely Tyson, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Stevie Wonder, Earth Wind & Fire, Gladys Knight, Ashford & Simpson, Roberta Flack, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, Billy Preston, Toni Morrison, Patti LaBelle, Black Ivory, The Delfonics, Bill Withers, Nikki Giovanni, Sonia Sanchez, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, The Last Poets, Wilson Pickett, Odetta, Kool & the Gang, Kathleen Cleaver, Betty Shabazz, Stokely Carmichael, Merry Clayton, Mandrill, and they all appeared on “SOUL!” The program blazed new trails for representation during a time when African Americans were not routinely featured prominently on television except in negative stereotypes.”

I wish I could have seen this show firsthand but this documentary,

MR. SOUL” took me back to a time when there was so much power in literary words, dance, music, hard conversations, and movements.

You MUST see the documentary “MR. SOUL.” Visit to find where the film is screening near you.  I give it 5 out of 5 winks of the EYE! If you would like to hear my interview with Writer – Director- Producer Melissa Haizlip click here

Until next time, keep your EYE to the sky!

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