BET Networks CEO Debra Lee Reflects on Don Cornelius

The chairman says the late Soul Train host was a music-business pioneer. 

Posted: 02/01/2012 12:45 PM EST
BET CEO Debra Lee talks about Don Cornelius' legacy

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of BET Networks Debra Lee has expressed her condolences and shared memories of famed Soul Train host Don Cornelius, who died at age 75 of an apparent suicide Wednesday morning.

“We are deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Don Cornelius. He was a pioneer in the television and music industries and his legacy and influence on American culture will continue to live on for many generations to come," Lee said. "He made Soul Train a destination for lovers of Black culture and music and connected the world to our culture and we are forever grateful.” 

Earlier in the day on CNN, Lee reflected on growing up in Greensboro, NC and hurrying to finish her chores every Saturday to have the chance to watch Cornelius host the show with the “latest dances, latest music” and the “greatest fashion.”

She says that the Soul Train brand is part of the very fabric of American culture and that the Soul Train line has changed the way Black Americans dance at every party, every wedding and every family reunion.

Cornelius hosted Soul Train from 1971 to 1993. BET Networks is a business partner with Soul Train Holdings and has aired the Soul Train Awards since 2009.

Don Cornelius most recently appeared at the 2009 BET Awards to present the O'Jays with the 2009 BET Lifetime Achievement Award.

“He was the epitome of cool, he was the epitome of soul, and at BET we’re proud to carry on his legacy with the continuation of the Soul Train Awards,” Lee said.

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(Photo: Vince Bucci/PictureGroup)

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