One thing that I loved about watching Sesame Street was that you would often see your favorite Black actors, musicians and athletes hanging out with the muppets. Everyone from Lena Horne to Ray Charles to Richard Pryor to Arthur Ashe made appearances on Sesame Street. I didn’t know at that time that I was being treated to performances by some of the biggest icons of entertainment and sports. I just knew that it was funky and really appreciated seeing cool Black people interacting with my favorite puppets.

Seems like everyone who appeared either sang or recited the alphabet. In one very innovative instance, Arthur Ashe played tennis while the muppets ran through the letters.

Here are a few of the alphabet segments that ran in the 70’s. Lena Horne, Ray Charles, The Pointer Sisters, Lou Rawls, plus I had to throw in Ms. Patti Labelle because she took the muppets to church. Lawd, that woman could sing the phone book and it would be hot!

The next three segments are a take off on James Brown, with a paper James singing Soul A, Soul H and Soul O. Make it funky now…Hey!

Stevie did something a little different…an original song focussing on numbers, 1,2,3 Sesame Street, with his talk box and a LIVE funky band. The kids are diggin’ it. The horn section is smokin’. OH, the sheer joy of ORIGINAL, LIVE MUSIC. I’ll take it from anywhere I can get it.

Richard and Bill’s comedic take on the alphabet…

James adds a little drama with the alphabet…

Jackie and Arthur do it their way….

© 2017 Sesame Workshop

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