SOUL TRAIN

Hoy nos subimos en el tren del alma, nos encaminamos por los rieles del recuerdo, la nostalgia y la añoranza, compramos un ticket para la melancolía, cargamos un vagón de centenares de videos musicales, llegamos al andén del sonido musical, nos dejamos guiar por el motorista conductor Oswaldo Valencia y arribamos a una estación televisiva, para rememorar un programa musical que impuso un estilo y marcó una época: el afamado Soul Train (Tren del Alma) con el que recordamos la figura formal y señera del primer conductor afroecuatoriano de nuestra televisión, un negro de cabello afro, de lentes, voz grave y elocuente, de tonalidad musical, de amplia cultura megalómana, de gran intelecto y profesionalismo y un apodo que es como se segundo nombre Mr. Soul Train, que sentado en un sillón, a un lado de discos de vinilos, elegantemente vestido con un terno de saco y corbata, presentaba videos musicales nacionales y extranjeros de su filmoteca, al tiempo que con su particular tono grave de voz, detallaba cada canción y cada intérprete, en una especie de clase musical que ganó muchos adeptos.

Soul Train, programa musical que se exhibió en Ecuador, las tardes de los sábados a las 18h30, a través de Canal 10 (luego llamado Telecentro y hoy TC Televisión), por 16 años consecutivos, empezó en nuestro país en 1975 y duró hasta 1991. El espacio, era una franquicia estadounidense que fue comprada para Ecuador por la empresa nacional J D Feraud Guzmán, tras la negociación con  la empresa Don Cornelius Productions. La transacción pudo hacerse posible, como lo contó Oswaldo Valencia en varias ocasiones, porque el residía en Nueva York, donde estudiaba y tenía cierta cercanía con la empresa propietaria del programa en Los Ángeles, a la que visitó junto al empresario Mario Wirdark Feraud, que no dudó en venderla a Ecuador al conocer del  parecido físico y del timbre de voz del ecuatoriano con Don Cornelius.  Ambos programas eran totalmente distintos, según decía Mr. Soul Train, quien se preparó seis meses antes de salir con su programa, pues allá el programa era dedicado a la etnia afroestadounidense por aquello del discrimen, mientras acá era de pocos videos y graficar con artistas ecuatorianos juveniles, pues el público objetivo no estaba segmentado por etnias, ya que se buscaba llegar a los jóvenes con las novedades de la música internacional y nacional.

El Soul Train original, fue un programa de televisión de variedades musicales estadounidense, en Los Ángeles que se emitió en redifusión desde 1971 hasta 2006. En sus 35 años de historia y 1.117 episodios, el programa contó con actuaciones de artistas principalmente de rhythm and blues (R&B), soul, y hip pop, aunque también aparecieron artistas de funk, jazz, disco y góspel. La serie fue creada por Donald Cortez más conocido como Don Cornelius, que fue además  su primer presentador y productor ejecutivo. La producción fue suspendida después de la temporada 2005-06, continuando con repeticiones (conocida como The Best of Soul Train) durante dos años. En la temporada de 2005-06 se anunciaron como la serie de televisión estadounidense más longeva.

En Ecuador, el programa, que más que programa era un show, llevaba a nuestros hogares a través de la pantalla, vídeos clip, como se decía en esos tiempos, la música básicamente negra como el soul, el jazz, funk o el góspel y otros géneros como disco, rock, rock clásico, heavy metal, pop y hip hop y también músic de artistas ecuatorianos. Como olvidar videos hoy clásicos de las voces negras de Gloria Gaynor, Earth Wind and Fire, Tabares, The Comodores, The Platters, Barry White, Lou Raws, Michael Jackson, Donna Summer y otros de raza blanca como Abba, Rod Stewart, Bee Gees, Journey, Kiss. Pero Soul Train, no solo era música en inglés, pues se daba cabida a cantantes y grupos nacionales y también se veía vídeos de Nino Bravo, Camilo Sesto o Sandro. Fue tan exitoso el programa que hasta produjo dos discos de larga duración (LP) con los éxitos de la época.

Eran los años de la moda de los pelos largos, los pantalones acampanados de banda ancha, zapatos de plataforma, camisas brillantes y coloridas, chaquetas neutras para los hombres y vestidos sexis, ajustados y cortos, con largos vuelos y plumas y cabello ondulado para las mujeres.

El icónico Oswaldo Valencia, que se inició en radio en 1968 a los 17 años en Canal Juvenil, que luego pasó por Espectáculo y Alegría y que  en su juventud quiso probar suerte como cantante en el programa ‘Mis primeros aplausos’ del entonces Canal 4 (hoy RTS), contaba en sus programas que su afición musical la tuvo desde pequeño cuando residía en Estados Unidos y asistía asiduamente al teatro Apolo de Nueva York en el barrio de Harlem en el que vio actuar a la agrupación Jackson Five, con un entonces niño Michael Jackson, o cuando vio en vivo a Simon and Garfunkel, y Los Carpenters, en el Central Park. Contaba además de su afición a su cantante preferido Barry White, de quien tiene su canción favorita: You´re the First, the Last, My Everything y  su grupo preferido Carpenters.

El programa llegó a su fin una tarde de 1991, por decisión del propio Oswaldo, quien pensó que era hora de retirarse al ver la llegada al país de los canales internacionales de música MTV o HTV,  que creyó que lo dejarían en el olvido. Años después, el presentador en varias entrevistas dijo que se arrepintió de su decisión y que nunca debió haberse ido. Muchos años después Soul Train volvió a otros canales como Canal 1 en 2005 en el que estuvo tres años y luego Canela TV (2008 – 2010), RTS y RTU, sin la misma acogida de sus años dorados en TC.

Pero como lo bueno no se olvida y a veces vuelve a renacer, el año anterior (2019) Soul Train, regresó a la pantalla, con una nueva propuesta audiovisual, esta vez gracias a la tecnología y a la plataforma de youtube, en la que Oswaldo tiene su propio canal, Valencia Entertainment TV, producido en Estados Unidos, donde está radicado. El programa dura  una hora y sale  los jueves, a las 20:00 de Ecuador.

Pero el Soul Train de la añoranza siempre será, el de los 70 y 80, cuando veíamos el inicio del programa con su clásica presentación de una locomotora animada transitando por unos rieles de teclas de piano, a la par que sonaba el clásico chucu chucu y salía un tema musical de fondo con los vídeos a presentar ese día. Y el pesar que sentíamos en la despedida cuando con su voz grave se despedía con su clásica frase de “soul, love and peace, see you next week, Have a nice weekend.” (alma, amor y paz, nos vemos la próxima semana, tengan un divertido fin se semana).

 


Fotos: El Universo, El Comercio

Acerca de Aurelio Paredes

Periodista de Profesión (Licenciado en Comunicación Social, graduado en la Universidad de Guayaquil), ecuatoriano de nacimiento, 59 años de edad y 37 años de experiencia. Empezó en 1982 como reportero radial y escaló posiciones hasta llegar a ser Editor de Deportes de Diario El Universo de Guayaquil, considerado el matutino de mayor circulación en Ecuador; Director de Revista Estadio (Deportiva) y Editor de Revista Vistazo (Política y Actualidad); presentador de televisión en varios programas deportivos; columnista de deportes y páginas humorísticas bajo el seudónimo de Delado; y guionista empírico en algunos programas de la televisión ecuatoriana. En la función pública fue Director de Comunicación de la Procuraduría General del Estado y en la empresa privada, Director de la Federación Deportiva Nacional del Ecuador.

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