New York's PBS affiliate WNET is streaming several episodes of acclaimed black variety show SOUL! Originally on the air from 1968-1973, and produced by the openly gay Ellis Haizlip, the show carries the distinction of being WNET's first program filmed entirely on videotape. More than just a musically-focused variety show (musical visitors included McCoy Tyner, Stevie Wonder and Al Green) SOUL! functioned as a space to explore the black experience at large and hosted actors, activists, athletes and political figures.

One of the more interesting performances captured was that of Rahsaan Roland Kirk & The Vibration Society. Blind from an early age, Kirk taught himself circular breathing, and developed a technique for playing multiple horns simultaneously. After working with Charles Mingus and Quincy Jones (notably performing the oft-imitated lead flute line on "Soul Bossa Nova"), Kirk acted as band-leader for most of his career. During his interview with Hazlip, Kirk talks about the trouble with electronic music (mind control), "plantation Earth," and the difficulties of being blind and traveling with a saxaphone. Unfortunately, the episodes aren't embedable, but YouTube is a goldmine.

via The New Yorker

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