It appears that quite a stir was caused by the broadcast of Centric’s/BET 2013 Soul Train Awards. Without giving credence to the volumes of hate directed at appearance and/or gear, I heard some opinions that were valid in regards to the current state and future of Black music in general and the show in particular. Here are few sample queries I heard asked, along with some sentiments.
A.) What constitutes a “new” artist?
Like everything else, definitions of words evolve, I guess. But do we really need to disregard earlier material if it went under the radar—Tamar did have a previous album—or if artists combine for a joint project? (I might be mistaken, but Tyrese, Ginuwine and Tank have solid bases on their own.)
B.) Does music matter?
As much as I hate to admit it, music is about over. Fame is the ultimate goal, and that objective can be met without harmonies and melodies. Making music itself, however, is but a skill set on your resume. Go reality TV!
C.) If there was a Mount Rushmore of female soul singers, who would be the four figures represented? For the most part, the names Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight and Patti LaBelle roll off the tongue. Who vies for the fourth? It doesn’t matter. The point in regards to the Soul Train Awards is, why not name the Female R&B Award after one of them? Yikes!
I gotta admit, I love the body of work Chaka Khan has forged, and she has earned her Hall of Fame accolades, but for this particular award, given the history of the show, how can that distinction go to anybody other than Knight? As the story is told, it was on the merits of Knight and the Pips that the national syndication of “Soul Train” was made possible. But Khan winning Female Artist of the Year is something you can’t be mad at.
D.) Were there any other awards given? If so, who were the winners?
- Best New Artist : K. Michelle
- Centric Certified Award : Luke James
- Best Gospel/Inspirational Performance : “If He Did It Before … Same God”: Tye Tribbett
- Best Hip Hop Song of the Year : “Bad” : Wale feat. Tiara Thomas Best R&B/Soul Female Artist: Tamar Braxton
- Best R&B/Soul Male Artist: Miguel
- Album of the Year : “Good Kid, M.A.A.D City” – Kendrick Lamar
- Song of the Year : “Blurred Lines” – Robin Thicke feat. Pharrell and T.I.
- The Ashford and Simpson Songwriter’s Award : “Love and War” – Tamar Braxton (Tamar Braxton, Darhyl Camper Jr., LaShawn Daniels and Makeba Riddick)
- Best Dance Performance : “Body Party” – Ciara
- Best Collaboration : “Blurred Lines” – Robin Thicke feat. Pharrell and T.I.
- Best International Performance : Bunji Garlin – “Differentology”
- Best Traditional Jazz Performance : Nicole Henry – “Waiting in Vain”
- Best Contemporary Jazz Performance : George Duke – “Missing You”
- Best Independent R&B/Soul Performance : Ashanti – “Never Should Have”
Rumor has it, however, that the big winner of the night took home trophies in the following categories: the “Call a Medic, He’s Having a Seizure, Wait … He’s Dancing” Award, the “After 20 Years, I Realize Now That Song Wasn’t as Bad as I Remember … It’s WORSE” Award and finally, the “Hello Timberlake (click) Hello Robin Thicke (click) Hello Hall and Oats (click), Ooh My God We Need Another Act” Award. The landslide winner: Vanilla Ice. And since we’re there …
E.) Can we have anything to ourselves?
The “Blue-Eyed Soul” segment—hmm. Didn’t Gregory Abbott, Vanessa Williams and Lil’ Kim have blue eyes—well, at least close to blue, except Kim, whose eye colors are versatile?
So we really mean Caucasian. I get it, we’re the “Soul Train, All Aboard,” but by the same token, can we envision the American Music Awards or the Grammy Awards having Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Lenny Kravitz, Living Colour and Prince do a Black rock segment? I’ll wait …
Speaking of Prince, just got word that Prince will commemorate the 20th anniversary of the ESSENCE Festival with a Superdome headlining performance over Fourth of July weekend.
ESSENCE and Prince will also support #YesWeCode, a special community initiative led by the Rebuild the Dream Innovation Fund’s founder Van Jones to encourage our young people to use technology and creativity to code.
The definitive destination for entertainment, empowerment, inspiration and culture, the ESSENCE Festival last hosted Prince in 2004.
“Welcoming an artist as iconic as Prince back to the ESSENCE Festival for a 20th anniversary performance is incredibly exciting,” said Essence Communications President Michelle Ebanks. “The ESSENCE Festival is where we come together to connect to both our culture and our community, so we are pleased to support Prince and the Rebuild the Dream Innovation Fund in advocating for our youth.”
For more information about the Rebuild the Dream initiative #YesWeCode, visit yeswecode.com.
Additional performers and speakers for the ESSENCE Festival, taking place July 3-6 in New Orleans, will be announced soon enough.
I’m out. Holla next week. Till then, enjoy the nightlife.