Aided by KGFJ Radio and based out of Los Angeles, California, SOUL started out as a weekly publication. They received on air radio promotion from KGFJ in exchange for advertisement space for the station in the paper. 10,000 copies of the first issue were printed and in under a week they were sold out. Within a year SOUL was in 30 major cities, expanded from eight to 16 pages long and now ran twice a month. Other publications began using SOUL as a primary news source, sales of the paper were on the rise and most artists’ managers had reprints of SOUL featuring their clients as part of their portfolios.
SOUL expanded in 1968 and created SOUL Illustrated, a music news magazine with in-depth feature articles, full color pictures, comics, music, movie and television reviews.
For 13 years SOUL continued to bring the stories of Black musicians, artists, writers, politicians, actors comedians and entertainers to the forefront. Entertainers like Diana Ross, The Jackson Five, James Brown, The Temptations, Aretha Franklin, Little Richard, Pam Grier and Sam Cooke graced the covers of the publication multiple times and their fans across the country ran to get SOUL to be in the know.
With bold original articles, amazing photos and a dedicated staff SOUL Newspaper was a crucial publication not only for its readers but for the artists it featured. Former contributors to SOUL’s success have gone on to become highly recognizable names. To name a few:
Writer, syndicated columnist, Pulitzer Prize recipient Leonard Pitts, Jr., writer editor Steven Ivory, Los Angeles Times writers Mike Terry, Connie Johnson, Rochelle Smith, J. Randy Taraborrelli, photographers Bruce Talamon, Bobby Holland, Erik Whitaker, and Howard Bingham who believed in SOUL and took Ken and Regina under his wing, providing them with photos to run in the paper for free while he freelanced for other publications.
27 years after the last issue was published the legacy of SOUL continues. Regina Jones, the Backbone of SOUL and long time publisher recently donated near complete sets of SOUL Newspapers to University of California, Los Angeles and Indiana University. Compilation books of past SOUL issues are also currently in the works. I have been working for the past year to organize and archive past issues and to bring the publication back to as many people as possible. SOUL was not only important to my family but to the families of many and the preservation of “OURstory” is imperative to our progression.