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City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
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Justin Bieber, Usher appear at Georgia Music Hall of Fame Awards

The person who received the most attention at Saturday night’s 33rd Annual Georgia Music Hall of Fame awards ceremony wasn’t an inductee. Nor is he a native of the state.

 biebervocalcoachBut try telling that to the packs of caterwauling teenage girls scattered throughout the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. They just knew that Justin Bieber was in the house, both to help induct his vocal coach, Jan Smith (aka “Mama Jan”), who received the  Chairman’s Award, and also to receive his own honor, the Horizon Award, given to young performers who have made outstanding achievements.

 He also performed a medley of hits from Smith’s students and was joined by the only guy in this town who could eclipse his razzle-dazzle – Usher, who sported a black tux with mirrored lapels for the occasion.

 But let’s place the Bieber fever aside for a few minutes for a look at the rest of the evening’s proceedings with this year’s eight inductees.

  • Group inductees Mother’s Finest opened the ceremony with their best-known song, “Baby Love,” a flaming chunk of funk that demonstrated their commanding live presence, particularly by frontwoman Joyce Kennedy. Nice to see a group that still knows how to dress like rock stars, too.

About half an hour before show time, Samuel L. Jackson, on hand to induct pal Kenny Leon, bumped into Mother’s Finest guitarist John Hayes in the VIP reception room and told him he used to come see the band play at Alex Cooley’s Electric Ballroom all the time in the ‘70s and was just listening to “Baby Love” the other day.

  •  Acclaimed Broadway director Leon received the first official induction of the night. But first, Jasmine Guy, backed by a pianist and conga player, performed “I Am a Poor Wayfaring Stranger” in Leon’s honor.

 Known for serving 11 years as the Artistic Director at the Alliance Theatre and making a mark on Broadway with “Raisin in the Sun” and “Fences,” Leon is currently working with Jackson on “The Mountaintop,” which opens on Broadway next month.

 Jackson, who wore his trademark Kangol beret Saturday, is a friend since college – though Leon attended Clark Atlanta University while Jackson was at Morehouse – and their easy friendship was apparent when Leon thanked Jackson for flying down from New York for the day to be there.

 “I do a lot of work around the world,” Leon told the audience, “but you made me the artist that I am. You gave me wings. No matter where I am, I am proud to say my home is Georgia.”georgia-music-hall-of-fame-logo

  • Paul “Old Man” Cochran was this year’s recipient of the Pioneer Award, which he was given by longtime music management partner Buddy Buie after a charming, if somewhat unrehearsed, set by Billy Joe Royal.

Backed by the Johnny Martini Band, Royal dug out his biggest hits “Cherry Hill Park” and “Down in the Boondocks,” before turning the spotlight to Buie to formally induct Cochran.

 “I’m not used to microphones. I spent my whole career backstage,” Cochran said, before thanking Helen, his wife of 52 years, and giving his new Lucite trophy a kiss.

  • Posthumous awards were given to jazz singer Judy Argo; choral director and champion of Negro Spirituals Hall Johnson; and blues fixture Sonny Terry. Friends and members of their families attended to accept.

 

  • The Braxton sisters allegedly canceled their scheduled performance to induct sister Toni sometime Saturday afternoon, even though they all walked the red carpet that night.  Gov. Nathan Deal was instead given the induction honors, and he immediately joked about the camera crew from “Braxton Family Values” hanging around backstage, so perhaps we’ll get to see what, if any, drama unfolded.

 Though she’s the most popular mainstream name of this year’s class, Braxton, who actually hails from Baltimore but moved to Atlanta in the early ‘90s, received the shortest ordination.

 Looking radiant, she blew kisses to the crowd and joked that even though she isn’t a native, “I consider myself a peach.”

 Braxton noted that she was feeling a bit under the weather, but still sang a line of “Georgia on My Mind” in her husky vibrato before skittering off stage.

  •  So back to the Bieber.

 Seated on a stool next to an acoustic guitarist, a black tie loose around his white shirt and black vest, Bieber said he wanted to sing a medley from some of Smith’s charges and launched into Matchbox Twenty’s “3 A.M.” (she’s worked with Rob Thomas), Usher’s “U Got it Bad” and his own “Baby,” which sent the teen girls in the audience into waves of ear-bleeding screams.

 Moments later, Bieber was joined by Usher, natty in a black tuxedo with mirrored lapels, and Bieber manager Scooter Braun to present Smith with her award.

 Usher called Smith “a treasure to Atlanta,” telling the crowd about how he had lost his voice, but after working with Smith, “it paid off in the end.”

 “It paid off kinda,” Bieber interjected with a grin.

 When Smith came out to accept her trophy, Bieber smothered her with kisses, and then pumped his fist to amp up the crowd as Usher enveloped her in a bear hug.

  • Later in the show, Smith returned the presentation favor by bestowing Bieber with the Horizon Award. The honor isn’t an induction into the hall of fame, but recognition of young performers for their outstanding achievements.

 “One of the greatest things about Jellybean … is that his heart is still the same. He’s the same little guy I met in December 2008,” Smith said.

 Upon taking his award, Bieber said that since he moved to Atlanta as soon as he got his record deal, “I developed a nice family and friends…I would consider Atlanta my second home.”

As soon as he left the stage, about a quarter of the audience vacated the venue, too, off to follow the trail of Bieber stardust.GMA_Mother's_Finest

  • It’s a shame those early-goers hustled out, because Mother’s Finest returned to blow the roof off Cobb with tight, energetic renditions of “Train Kept ‘ Rollin’” and “Piece of the Rock.”

 Longtime friend Alex Cooley presented the band with their Group award, saying, “For just plain old rip-roaring rocking and rolling, no one beats Mother’s Finest.”

 The band appeared humbled and grateful by the recognition, as Kennedy, a spitfire at 64, noted, “In this business you know some people are gonna love you and some are gonna hate you. You have to stay on the path God put you on and do what you do.”

  • This year’s traditional show-closer came from Smith, who unleashed a gutsy “Georgia on My Mind.” After the first verse, she was joined by Usher and WSB-TV’s Monica Pearson (a co-host at the ceremony), who possesses an admirably potent set of pipes.

 With only a pianist and bassist providing the musical backdrop, the three singers traded runs, with Usher eventually sauntering over to lean against the piano, Tony Bennett-style, to croon some of the final notes.

11 comments Add your comment

[...] were on hand to present their vocal coach, Jan Smith, with the Chairman’s Award, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The teen sensation, nicknamed Jellybean by Smith, also picked up the Horizon Award in recognition [...]

ayca albaş

September 18th, 2011
12:36 pm

[...] were on hand to present their vocal coach, Jan Smith, with the Chairman’s Award, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The teen sensation, nicknamed Jellybean by Smith, also picked up the Horizon Award in recognition [...]

[...] were on hand to present their vocal coach, Jan Smith, with the Chairman’s Award, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  The teen sensation, nicknamed Jellybean by Smith, also picked up the Horizon Award in [...]

James

September 18th, 2011
2:43 pm

The real treat from last night was seeing Mother’s Finest blow the roof off Wild Bill’s after the awards show.This award was way past due for this band. Justin who? The crowd filing out after Bieber just shows how music and our tastes have gone down the toilet.

[...] were on hand to present their vocal coach, Jan Smith, with the Chairman’s Award, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The teen sensation, nicknamed Jellybean by Smith, also picked up the Horizon Award in recognition [...]

akira

September 19th, 2011
12:34 pm

i love justin he the love of my life i no more thinks about him then girl do

[...] Source: AJC [...]

[...] to the AJC, Toni’s sisters were originally scheduled to perform in her honor, but apparently backed out [...]

Will

September 20th, 2011
11:42 am

This is an interesting gig from Justin:

The BieberMix
http://www.mediafileshare.com/video/145

[...] 1, [...]