By Deon C. Jefferson
“Love, Peace, and Soul”, are the famous words by the ultimate showman, Don Cornelius. This year, we will celebrate 50 years of one of the best shows of all time, Soul Train. To commemorate the 50th anniversary, the annual Soul Train Awards will be held at the legendary Apollo Theater. Expect the show to be bigger and better than ever. The Soul Train Awards highlights the best in soul music, R&B, and Hip Hop from both popular industry vanguards and the next generation of promising talented artists.
“Don Cornelius’ brilliant vision created a revolutionary show that became a cornerstone in American culture. Fifty years later, the Soul Train Awards continues to amplify his powerful message of Love, Peace & Soul to a global audience,” said Connie Orlando, EVP Specials, Music Programming & Music Strategy. “We are honored to be a part of the Soul Train legacy and partner with the national treasure that is the Apollo to celebrate Black excellence and culture with one unforgettable night of can’t miss moments.”
To add to the excitement, the announcement of the host and nominations were released, and it sent fans into a frenzy. Fans of 90’s sitcom “Martin” will be happy to hear that real life best friends Tisha Campbell Martin and Tichina Arnold will return to host. The two ladies brought throwback hip hop vibes and witty banter to the show last year, they have hosted three years in the past. Last year’s show was much different from their other shows. In 2020, the production was scaled back to help prevent the spread of Covid-19. For 33 years, the 2021 “Soul Train Awards” presented by BET, has featured unforgettable performances including special moments and appearances by some of the brightest stars in Black culture and entertainment.
Last year’s show did not disappoint. We saw Chris Brown take home a boatload of awards, while H.E.R took home two awards, including the “Ashford and Simpson Songwriter Award” for her single “I Can’t Breathe”. Beyonce and her daughter Blue Ivy took home the award for “Video of the Year” for their song “Brown Skin Girl”, while Meg Tha Stallion added the trophy for “Song of the Year to her shelf thanks to her hit single “Savage”. Summer Walker won “Album of the Year”, while Snoh Aalegra received the “Best New Artist” award. The performances were memorable as well. Artists like Ella Mai, Babyface, Jazmine Sullivan, Brandy and Ceelo Green hit the stage. R&B veteran Monica received the “Lady of Soul Award”, while giving us a performance that showcased some of her biggest hits.
For 2021, H.E.R returns as the most nominated artist. She leads the pack with an impressive eight nominations. This is the second year she is the most nominated artist. Wiz Kid and TEMS have five nods each, followed by Blxst with four nods. Bruno Mars and Anderson. Paak’s Silk Sonic, Doja Cat, and Yung Bleu each have three nods. There was a big debate about who would take home the most awards this year. Jazmine Sullivan had a huge year with her concept album Heaux Tales, so maybe this will be her big night. Another potential big winner could be “Made in Lagos” by artist Wiz Kid thanks to his single “Essence”.
This year Columbia Records recording artist Maxwell will receive the Legend Award. Fans of Maxwell can recall when he burst onto the scene in 1996 with his smooth vocals and funky afro.
He has been one of the most consistent male singers in the industry. Over the course of his career, he has released four consecutive Platinum-selling studio albums, won three Grammy Awards out of 13 nominations, six Soul Train Music Awards and two NAACP Image Awards. Maxwell is widely credited for being instrumental in creating the “neo-soul” genre, along with Erykah Badu and D’Angelo.
“It’s an honor to be presented with the Legend award by a community that’s been growing with me throughout my career,” said Maxwell in a recent statement. “I’m so grateful to be sharing this moment with everyone and returning to the Apollo for an evening of excellence.”
Ashanti will be honored with the prestigious “Lady of Soul” Award”. The singer has become a household name in the urban and pop community. In 2002, thanks to her first album, she sold over 505,000 copies in the first week of release. Ashanti also earned eight Billboard Music Awards, Two American Music Awards, and a Grammy Award. Her single “Foolish” reached #1 on Billboard and she became the second artist after The Beatles to have their first three songs chart in the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100 simultaneously. She has released five studio albums and has appeared in several tv and film roles.
“I’m honored to be recognized as this year’s ‘Lady of Soul’ honoree,” said Ashanti in a recent interview. “This is a full circle moment for me because I received the ‘Aretha Franklin Entertainer of the Year’ Award at the Lady of Soul Awards in 2002. As we commemorate 50 years of Soul Train, I’m proud to be a part of this legacy and to return to the Apollo to celebrate.”
The 2021 Soul Train Awards premieres Sunday, November 28 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on BET and BET Her.