If you have BET and/or Centric, you might want to set your DVRs to check out the 2010 Soul Train Music Awards. Taped a couple of weeks ago in L.A., this year’s ceremony doles out Lifetime Achievement Awards to the VERY deserving Ron Isley and Anita Baker, and also contains performances from Ne-Yo, Erykah Badu and Cee-Lo Green, amongst others. It’s a strong lineup that almost cancels out the fact that Terrence Howard (hosting the show for the second consecutive year with Taraji P. Henson) is a TURR-BULL host.
Much like the “Soul Train” show itself, the Soul Train Awards have become a musical institution since the first show back in 1987. It was the first nationally televised award show to pay attention to the R&B, rap and jazz genres, and has gone on to give props to artists who don’t necessarily get their correct props on the American Music Awards, Grammys or MTV VMAs. Although they’ve sort of had their shine blocked by the glitzier (and better attended) BET Awards (a happening that caused the Soul Train Awards to go on hiatus for a couple of years), the show has come back as sort of a celebration of what people term “Grown Folks Music”, AKA contemporary soul music that appeals to folks in their late-twenties and above.
Anyway, whether you check out tonight’s show or not, you should definitely grab a look at the very cool clip below, taken from the very first STA show in ’87. Don Cornelius may not have understood hip-hop (as he made clear in the recent “Soul Train” documentary on VH-1), but he was the first to honor it. Check out LL Cool J’s intense performance, featuring a rap he wrote specifically for the show (using the music to “I’m Bad” which wouldn’t come out for another couple of months). Then check out Vanessa Williams (!) and Kenny G. (!!) announcing the winners of the award for Best Rap Song.
After taking a second to mourn the folks in the clip who are no longer with us (Jam Master Jay and Luther Vandross), make sure you check out the Soul Train website. Great to now such an important cultural institution is finally getting props on the web.