There is only one word to adequately describe this past weekend: WOW! SoulTrain.com had the pleasure of being front and center for two of the biggest music events of the summer–the 25th Annual ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Awards, and the 2012 BET Awards.
On Friday, June 29, some of the most successful and influential songwriters, producers, and performers streamed into the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills for ASCAP’s Rhythm & Soul Awards, which honors R&B, hip-hop, and gospels songwriters and publishers. The event was sponsored by Rolling Out and Steed Media Group. To kick off the evening’s celebrations, Steed Media Group CEO Munson Steed offered a toast to the all in attendance. This year’s awardees included Happy Perez and Miguel Pimentel for their song “Sure Thing” (Top R&B/Hip-Hop Song); “Look at Me Now” by Jean-Baptiste Kouame II and Wesley Pentz (Top Rap Song); and Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis for “I Smile” (Top Gospel Song). Publisher of the Year was awarded to EMI Publishing, with a staggering eighteen songs honored during the evening. Noah “40” Shebib took home the award for Songwriter of the Year. 40 is the pen behind some of the most-performed songs of 2011: “Fall for Your Type” by Jamie Foxx featuring Drake; “Headlines” by Drake; “I’m On One” by DJ Khaled featuring Rick Ross, Drake, and Lil Wayne; and Drake’s “Marvin’s Room”.
The highlight of the evening was the presentation of two very special awards to two of the most distinguished and accomplished songwriters and composers of all time. The incomparable Quincy Jones received the prestigious ASCAP Founders Award, given to songwriters and composers whose trail-blazing work has set the standard, raised the bar, and continues to hold substantial cultural significance. On hand to pay tribute to the legendary composer, songwriter, and producer were Marsha Ambrosious, Tyrese, and Babyface, and ASCAP President and Chairman Paul Williams presented the award to the man we all affectionately call “Q”.
Pioneering producer and artist Pharrell Williams received ASCAP’s Golden Note Award, which is presented to songwriters, composers, and artists whose careers included extraordinary milestones and accomplishments. Pharrell joins past recipients Sean Diddy” Combs, Mary Mary, Alicia Keys, and others in being recognized for his ground-breaking work.
Be sure to check out SoulTrain.com’s exclusive video coverage from the 25th Annual ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Awards red carpet in the coming days!
For more information about the 25th Annual ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Awards, visit http://www.ascap.com/Press/2012/0629-rs-awards.aspx.
On the heels of our coverage of the ASCAP event on Friday, the SoulTrain.com team took our place on the red carpet for the 2012 BET Awards! As performers, nominees, and celebrities of all stripes eased on down the ruby way, they stopped to share their fondest memories of Soul Train from back in the day. Here are some of the highlights:
Tamia: “I remember going on Soul Train for the first time and just being in awe, because I would watch it every Saturday morning. I remember thinking, ‘The stage is so small!’ On TV everything seemed so huge! I felt proud to be there.”
Tamar Braxton: “Teena Marie! Teena was a bad chick back then!”
Driicky Graham (hip-hop artist, “Snapbacks and Tattoos”): “I appreciate Soul Train for recognizing the older guys that were doing music back in the day. A lot of people had to come through Soul Train!”
Gary Owen and Kenya Owen: “I just liked the Soul Train line, the dances and the outfits. The outfits were my favorite–you look at it and you’re like, ‘People wore that?!?’ (Gary)
“Cheryl Song! She was there every week!” (Kenya)
Swizz Beatz: “My favorite Soul Train memory was watching the Jackson 5 perform. Michael didn’t know he was quite the star at that moment yet, but everybody else did and I thought that was an amazing moment.”
Lira (BET International Award Nominee, South Africa): “Soul Train was our first introduction to African American culture!”
Robert Glasper and his fiancée Angelica: “When James Brown did a live show and he had two drummers!” (Robert)
“I have two favorites: Stevie Wonder doing the Minnie Riperton tribute, and the Jackson 5.” (Angelica)
Donnie Simpson: “Elton John doing ‘Benny and the Jets.’ It’s a song that I broke on my radio show in Detroit, and to see it go all the way to the point where Elton was on Soul Train was very special to me.”
Of course, the red carpet was just the beginning! Inside the Shrine Auditorium, the evening started with a bang as Kanye West opened the show, and host Samuel L. Jackson and director Spike Lee (whose new joint Red Hook Summer hits theatres this summer) followed with a parody of some of today’s top hip-hop songs. The Throne (Jay-Z and Kanye West) took home the first award of the night for Best Group. Academy Award nominee Taraji P. Henson presented comedian Kevin Hart with the award for Best Actor, and Best New Artist went to rapper Big Sean, who brought his mom along as his date to the show.
With baited breath the audience inside the Shrine and in homes across the country awaited the highly-anticipated return of D’Angelo, who made his first TV appearance in over a decade. And he did not disappoint! Kicking his set off with his hit “Untitled (How Does It Feel)”, D’Angelo proved that he is, indeed, back and ready to rock the house. Although not necessarily in the same physical shape as he was when last we saw him back in the early 00s, last night’s performance made it clear that D’Angelo the musician is in top form.
The evening was filled with heartwarming salutes to the luminaries we’ve lost since last year. BET alumni Donnie Simpson, AJ Calloway, Free, Tigga, and 106 and Park co-hosts Rocsi and Terrence J paid tribute to media pioneers Dick Clark, Hal Jackson, and Don Cornelius; and songtress Chanté Moore gave an incredible performance in honor of Donna Summer. Valerie Simpson sat down at the piano for a gorgeous and moving rendition of “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing” in memory of her late husband and songwriting partner Nick Ashford.
But the highlight of the evening by all accounts was the beautiful tribute to Whitney Houston. After a stirring introduction by Mariah Carey, Monica and Brandy wowed the crowd with their powerful and emotionally charged performances. But it was Whitney’s dear mother, Cissy Houston, who brought the audience to its feet and left not one eye dry as she sang “Bridge Over Troubled Water”. Whitney’s Waiting to Exhale co-stars Angela Bassett, Leila Roshon, and Loretta Divine shared their memories of working and bonding with her, and Chaka Khan closed out the tribute with “I’m Every Woman”.
Following the awards show, the SoulTrain.com team headed over to the official after party, where we caught up with two of the stars of VH1’s Hollywood Exes–Sheree Fletcher and Mayte Garcia, and also Access Hollywood’s Shaun Robinson. Stay tuned to SoulTrain.com for clips from the official after party red carpet!
Rhonda Nicole is an independent singer/songwriter from Dallas, TX, based in the Bay Area. Download her EP “Nuda Veritas” on CDBaby and iTunes, and follow her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/rhondanicolemusic and on Twitter @wildhoneyrock.