Maxwell Credit: Dave Goodson photo

BET?! SOUL TRAIN?!! The APOLLO Theater?!!! For a combined century and a half of their collective existence, it could be assured that they have discovered, nurtured, established, propelled and resurrected almost EVERY Black music artist of consequence. Therefore, when the three entities join forces, nothing short of explosive from top to bottom is projected.

With that, were the expectations of the 2021 Soul Train Awards too high? That would be an unequivocal yes! The question then would be, were those lofty expectations met? In all honesty, the show didn’t get there and stay there, but it did reach a crescendo of art that is rarely seen.

While he was bestowed with the 2021 Ford-sponsored Legend Award, the catalog of work of Maxwell still seems to be underrated. Nonetheless in what was arguably the evening’s most special moments, firstly, he was presented with his trophy from two-time winner (Best R&B/Soul Female Artist and Album of the Year, “Heaux Tales”) Jazmine Sullivan who reflected on Maxwell’s influence both on the industry and in her own life, commenting how he was one of the only people who gave her a chance. After her touching speech about his humble beginnings and rise to success, Maxwell, who transformed his look from the Allen Iverson cornrows he rocked on the red carpet, to 1996, the year of his first album cover. He accepted the award and expressed gratitude, visibly moved by the emotional moment. The singer then brought endless soul to the stage, performing a medley of his classics including “Til the Cops Come Knockin’,” “Bad Habits,” “Sumthin’ Sumthin’,” new song “Off” and closed out with crowd favorite “Ascension,” as he walked through the crowd, serenading attendees. His highly anticipated new album “BLACKsummers’night” will be released this coming spring buoyed by the release of the new single “Off.”

Maxwell has also announced his Night 2022 Tour, which will cover North America. The tour is in partnership with Black Promoters Collective, the preeminent coalition of African American independent promoters. The 25-date run kicks off in Dallas at Texas Trust CU Theater, and area appearances include March 11, 2022, Prudential Center (Newark); March 30, the Barclays Center (Brooklyn); and April 1, Boardwalk Hall (Atlantic City.) Anthony Hamilton and Joe are along for support.

“Maxwell is one of the most respected artists in the industry,” says Gary Guidry, CEO, Black Promoters Collective. “His body of work and showmanship are second to none. We believe he has a true connection to the culture. We are happy to partner with him on the Night 2022 Tour and look forward to growing this relationship for years to come.”

As for the rest of the ceremony, while all the awards were televised, here are the complete listings of 2021 Soul Train Award winners:

Souls of Justice Award: Ciara and Russell Wilson, and Marley Dias
Lady of Soul: Ashanti
Best New Artist: Yung Bleu
Certified Soul Award: Charlie Wilson
Best R&B/Soul Male Artist: Giveon
Best Gospel/Inspirational Award: Kirk Franklin
Song of the Year: Bruno Mars, Anderson .Paak, Silk Sonic – “Leave the Door Open”
The Ashford and Simpson Songwriter’s Award: “Leave the Door Open”
Best Dance Performance: Normani feat. Cardi B – “Wild Side”
Best Collaboration: Wizkid feat. Tems – “Essence”
Video of the Year: Bruno Mars, Anderson .Paak, Silk Sonic – “Leave the Door Open”

Over and out. Holla next week. Til then, enjoy the nightlife.

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