This year was special in more than one way. The Soul Train Awards was held in Harlem at the historical Apollo theater and this year marks the 50th Anniversary and it’s the 34th ceremony of the awards show being aired.
The night marked the fourth year of the funny duo Tisha Campbell and Tichina Arnold hosting the awards. Both kept the audience in laughter through out the night. The ladies started the show off with a musical journey from the past to the present. Of course you can’t start a show at the Apollo without rubbing the “good luck tree stump” and that is just what they did and it paid off. The duo kick the celebration off by paying homage singing medleys from Martha and The Vandellas, The Jackson 5, and brought out R&B icon El DeBarge singing one of his biggest hit “Rhythm of the Night” and brought it back to golden era of hip hop/R&B with the Uptown anthem with Mary J. Blige “Real Love” with DJ Dimond Kuts on the 1’s & 2’s. It was a jam pack house with legends and new creators such as: Maxwell, Fred Hammond, Jazmine Sullivan, Normani, Marzz, Elhae, Lucky Daye, Leon Bridges just to name a few.
Soul duo Bruno Mars and Anderson Paak, Silk Sonic performed their new single “Fly as Me” and flash us back to the beginning of the train with their performance of the exact replica of the Soul Train set. Next came the newest songbird, Ari Lennox who beautifully sung her latest single “Pressure“. Later she joined Summer Walker on their collaboration “Unloyal“. Gospel legend, Fred Hammond brought church to the train and delivered a powerful house performance.
R&B Princess, Ashanti who was crowned this year “Lady of Soul” the award was presented by Normani. Ashanti took the stage with hit after hit including “Happy“, “Rain on Me“, “Baby“, “What’s Luv” where Fat Joe came out and join Ashanti on this classic. Ja Rule followed with his presence to perform their 2002 hit “Always on Time“. She looked amazing and sounded stunning and her performance was lit!
The sexy guru himself, Maxwell was presented with the most prestige honor of the evening, the “Legend Award” which the beautiful and amazing songstress, Jazmine Sullivan had the honor to present the award . Maxwell gave a heartfelt speech as he spoke of his deep appreciation coming from humble beginnings, his love of music and being apart of the R&B community is nothing he takes for granted. “we had a radio and the radio was the window of my dreams“. He gave shout outs to Haiti, Puerto Rico, and the Caribbean for his proud heritage. But it didn’t stop there. Maxwell exit and returned to the stage making us all holler as he serenaded us with a medley of some of his classics “Til the Cops Come Knockin”, “Sumthin Sumthin”, “Bad Habits”, “Ascension” and his new single “Off”. Even though this was just a taste, Maxwell delivered.
It’s Back! “The Soul Cipher” has returned in it’s rare form of raw and true talent of some dope artists from: OG Musiq Soulchild, Elle Verner, new comers Tone Stith, Koryn Hawthorne, Jac Ross and of course on the 1’s & 2’s was the one and only boogie down kid, DJ DNice!
Thank you BET and Soul Train for an amazing and memorable evening. This too will go down in history! Soullllll Trainnnnnn Peace, Love, and Soul!
Photos: Dave Goodson