Ex Pop-Locking “Soul Train” Dancer Damita Jo Spilled Tea On How She Angered Don Cornelius

Posted On : October 9, 2021
Damita Jo Freeman, former “Soul Train” dancer

If you’re from the Old School, chances are you remember seeing Damita Jo Freeman pop-locking and dominating the Soul Train dance floor back in the day. Her infamous Joe Tex and James Brown performances were crazy!

Damita Jo had a whole lot to say about a few interesting facts we never knew…such as how she used to rebel against Don Cornelius and basically piss him off. She was also not afraid to take risks…even if it would cost her her job. Check out excerpts from an interview she did with SoulTrain.com a few years ago…

Damita Jo On What It Was Like Behind The Scenes Of “Soul Train” & Why Her Mom Called Cops On The Show

Damita: “The bathrooms at the studio were the dancers’ dressing rooms. We would have lunch at 12:00 with a box of chicken and only one Coke! We had nothing else to drink for the rest of the day! We only had one Coke and one drink of water. We couldn’t even use the phone in the studio. I had to call my mom to let her know that I would be getting home late because we had no idea when we were getting out of the studio, but me and the other dancers were told we were not allowed to use the phone. I told my mom about this when I got home and she called the cops and a cop came to the set the next day and explained to Don Cornelius that since most of the dancers were minors, we had to be able to use the phone to call our parents to notify them what time we would be home. So from that time on, we were allowed to use the phone. This all happened during my first weekend at Soul Train.”


Damita Jo (far right) with Jody Watley (C) and friend (L)

Damita Jo: “I remember during the second weekend I was on the show, all of the dancers had been dancing all day and were tired and thirsty. I saw two big garbage cans filled with sodas in Don Cornelius’ office at the studio. I got some of the other dancers…to bring the two garbage cans right out on to the dance floor during the middle of a dance number and I yelled, ‘Break!’ (laughs).”

On how her famous performance with Joe Tex happened, and why Don Cornelius was furious with her:

Damita Jo: “He [Joe Tex] had asked me to dance with him before his performance so when the song (“I Gotcha”) started, he pulled me up on the stage and I danced. None of my dancing was choreographed. It was impromptu. I just did my own interpretation of the song through my dance moves. I remember Don Cornelius was looking at me angry the whole time I was dancing with Joe because he didn’t want the dancers to interact with the guest stars. I just knew this would be my last time on Soul Train. But after that episode aired, the show’s ratings went up. […] It was very exciting to me. I loved being on TV! I danced with Joe Tex two other times on Soul Train.”

Damita Jo Freeman

Damita Jo Freeman expressed great gratitude for the late Don Cornelius and Dick Clark:

Damita: “Don opened up many doors. He opened doors that gave me an opportunity to slip through and help to make dreams happen. Dick Clark gave me the tools once Don opened the door for me. I applaud them both.”

Last we heard, Damita Jo Freeman was currently writing and working on children’s books. We love how she took her opportunity on Soul Train and ran with it. It’s great to see her still in business and continuing her legacy. Do your thing Ms. Freeman!