After an extended period on the left coast, it takes a minute to come home and get right, but I’m back home and ready to jump back in.
As promised, that “BET Live Weekend” was overwhelming, to the point that strategic measures had to be employed in the events you attended. If you guessed right, you were around when it went down. For the most part, I think we were in the right places.
As a precursor to the events in Los Angeles, I made a stop in Vegas, at the Mandalay Bay to be specific, to check out the “Michael Jackson One Cirque Du Soleil” extravaganza. The term perpetual motion is an understatement when used to describe the show, which could only have been topped if Michael himself was thrust front and center.
As in the past two years, the last weekend of June, from Thursday to Sunday, prestigious awards for Black music were doled out, starting with the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers and culminating with the BET Awards. ASCAP hosted its 27th annual Rhythm & Soul Music Awards Thursday, June 26, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles. The invitation-only event gave special honors to music producer and mogul, Jermaine Dupri and singer-songwriter and producer, Ne-Yo. Hit music maker Mike WiLL was the top recipient for songwriters and publishers of the most performed ASCAP songs on the 2013 R&B/hip-hop, rap and gospel charts. Dupri was presented with the prestigious ASCAP Founders Award by ASCAP President and Chairman Paul Williams, along with surprise guests Usher and Bow Wow.
The award is among the most prestigious honors that ASCAP gives. It is awarded to songwriters and composers who have made pioneering contributions to music by inspiring and influencing their fellow music creators. Each recipient is a musical innovator who possesses a unique style of creative genius that will enrich generations to come. Past recipients include Ashford and Simpson, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Dr. Dre, Berry Gordy Jr. and Motown Industries, Billy Joel, Quincy Jones, Paul McCartney, Smokey Robinson, Patti Smith, Rod Stewart and Stevie Wonder. Dupri was the youngest artist to receive this achievement award.
Ne-Yo received the ASCAP Golden Note Award. This award is presented to songwriters, composers and artists who have achieved extraordinary career milestones. Previous honorees include Sean “Diddy” Combs, Jermaine Dupri, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Jay Z, Quincy Jones, Alicia Keys, LL Cool J, Stevie Wonder, Usher, Pharrell Williams and Lionel Richie.
The latter three were also impactful at the premiere event for the weekend, the BET Awards. At that event, Usher gave a reminder to the music world of his status as an entertainer with his performance medley. Williams garnered multiple wins in the categories of Best Male R&B/Pop Artist and Best Video of the Year for “Happy.” Richie walked away with a Lifetime Achievement Award and managed to perform stellar versions of two of his classic hits: “Easy,” with the Commodores and his solo anthem “All Night Long (All Night).” John Legend crooned Richie’s love song “Hello” from the piano, Ledisi rocked out “Brick House” and the great gospel singer Yolanda Adams owned “Jesus Is Love.”
Newcomer August Alsina took dual trophies for Best New Artist and the Viewer’s Choice Award. “I represent the struggle,” he said onstage. “This award is not for me, it’s for the people.” Ironically, the people and the struggle were honored as Myrlie Evers-Williams, activist as well as widow of slain civil rights champion Medger Evers, accepted the Humanitarian Award in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Bill.
Phylicia Rashad was class personified in her moving tribute to the memories of Maya Angelou and Ruby Dee. Sad, however, that a snippet of a song going into a commercial was all that was mustered for the recent passing of the legend Bobby Womack.
Real talk though; it was the concerts that drove the weekend. Outkast, Maxwell, Jill Scott, the Roots and Mary J. Blige were on top of their respective games.
Holla next week. Till then, enjoy the nightlife.