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Blogging from… the 2009 Soul Train Awards

Trey Songz and Toni Braxton during the opening number of the Soul Train Awards, taped Nov. 3, airing Nov. 29

Trey Songz and Toni Braxton during the opening number of the Soul Train Awards, taped Nov. 3, airing Nov. 29

As a TV show, “Soul Train” ran out of fuel in 2006 after 25 years on the air in syndication.

But the Soul Train Awards live on — thanks to BET and a new spinoff network called Centric, which used to be BET J. It’s going to target the older African-American demographic, much like TV One.

And for the first time, the awards show (which debuted in 1987 but took a break last year) moves to Atlanta from the Los Angeles area. I’m awaiting the start the show at the Georgia World Congress Center — less than a month after BET held its Hip Hop Awards up the street at the Atlanta Civic Center.

That show ran like a military operation, starting on time and finishing just a few minutes longer than the actual two-hour air time (with delays mostly related to botches by host Mike Epps). BET wasn’t quite as efficient this time around, starting 30 minutes late and ending three hours later.

And only three awards were effectively handed out and only one winner was in attendance: Keri Hilson, from Atlanta. (She won twice, for best new artist and best collaboration.) The best album was given to Beyonce but she wasn’t there. She also won several other awards, which were not shown. Maxwell and Mary Mary took home awards, too, but were absent as well.

This didn’t take away from the stars who were there. The emotional highlight came at the end during a tribute to Chaka Khan. Angie Stone, while singing “Ain’t Nobody,” left the stage and began dueting spontaneously with Khan, who hit the big note with no prep at all.

At the start, a warmup comic killed time for a half hour, creating a Soul Train dance line culled from volunteer audience members and getting a capella snippets of hits from Musiq Soulchild and Brian McKnight. The show began at 8:33 p.m. with a duet by sometime Atlanta resident Toni Braxton and Trey Songz with “Yesterday” (and included a lovely kiss on the lips.)

Tonight, the hosts are actors Taraji Henson (”The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”) and Terrence Howard (”Iron Man”). They open with a duet of Peaches & Herb’s “Reunited,” appropriate given they were both on “Hustle & Flow.” (And both can sing!)

First winner was an Atlanta lady: Keri Hilson, who won for best new artist, beating out the likes of Drake and Solange. She thanked a bunch of folks, not using a paper cheat sheet, but her Blackberry. Later, she performed her hit “Knock You Down” in a snakeskin black jacket and an all black get up. A shaky high note at least proved she isn’t lip syncing.

Atlanta’s Keith Sweat introduced Charlie Wilson (who broke out as lead singer of the Gap Band) with a song dedicated to the legendary R&B singer. (No reaction shots of his ex Lisa Wu Hartwell.)

“I’m here because of His mercy and His grace,” said Wilson. “I’m 15 years clean and sober and I’m cancer free.” (He recently recovered from early-stage prostate cancer.)

Several artists (Ginuwine, Chico DeBarge, Brian McKnight, Kandi Burruss, K-Ci & JoJo) sang a string of Wilson’s hits including “Early in the Morning,” “Outstanding” and “Yearning For Your Love” before Wilson, in a sharp black suit and sunglasses, hit the stage to croon bits of “There Goes My Baby” and “Burn Rubber on Me.” He sounded as good as ever, singing with a joy of a person who is glad to be alive. (Somehow, the band’s biggest crossover hit “You Dropped a Bomb on Me” was omitted.)

V-103’s Frank Ski did one of the intros and mispronounced Claudia Jordan’s name (he said Johnson) so they had to re-tape it.

At 10 o’clock, 90 minutes after the show started, there is an extended break. No reason is given to the audience and the warmup comic isn’t even working anymore (We joke that he’s been fired for not being terribly funny.) Maybe the Real Housewives of Atlanta (due to present an award at some point) are having diva moments backstage.

At 10:06 p.m., the Motown tribute starts with lookalike (and kinda soundalike) Supremes (with Henson as Diana Ross), followed by various lower-wattage stars singing classics. Johnny Gill gets to tackle one of his own, “My My My.” And Chico DeBarge hit the ceiling notes with “I Like It.” The audience vibed to that one. But they stood up and cheered for Boyz II Men. It’s hard not to sing along with “End of the Road.”]

This led directly into a brief video Michael Jackson tribute. A video showed clips of the Jackson Five on “Soul Train.” Creator Don Cornelius is heard talking about how the Jackson Five’s frequent appearances gave the show credibility.

The warmup comic is back during the next break. And he tries and fails to coax M.C. Hammer to do some dancing.

Henson calls our fine city “Hotlanta.” Is it just me or do only outsiders call the city “Hotlanta”?

We watch a video about LaFace Records, which was founded here in Atlanta. But there appeared to be no connection to anything else. Clearly, this awards show will be post-edited to make everything look smoother.

Ludacris moments later popped in to give Atlanta (not Hotlanta) some love singing with Raheem DeVaughn with “Bulletproof.”

Besides Beyonce, other nominees not here: Ne-Yo, Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Hudson, Drake and Kanye West (wise move on his part.)

Cornelius, who founded the show, is no longer part of it since he sold it to MadVision Entertainment in 2008.

The show itself will air on BET and Centric as a simulcast November 29 at 9 p.m.

Presumably, MadVision wants to eventually revive the actual weekly show.

For nostalgia’s sake, watch the Soul Train dance line from 1973

22 comments Add your comment

Theodore

November 4th, 2009
11:29 am

Imagine how dissapointed those people are because beyoncé is not there

Gary B.

November 4th, 2009
11:49 am

Correction to your article….Another winner was in Attendance, but her category/ award was not presented on stage. The winner of the Centric Soul Approved – Underground Category was at the show, Maysa, but they did not present her award on stage, and just announced her as a winner using Frank Ski on Video.

Bonnie

November 4th, 2009
1:26 pm

Aren’t “Burn Rubber on Me” and “Dropped A Bomb on Me” the same song??

Mr. Charles

November 4th, 2009
1:27 pm

That throwback video is awesome! Thanks for putting it out there. It represents a cool period in our culture; Soul Music captured the hearts and minds… and souls of a Nation of young and old alike:) Any more where that came from?

sherre sucks

November 4th, 2009
1:49 pm

Jaye

November 5th, 2009
4:06 pm

Bonnie,

Burn Rubber on Me and You Dropped A Bomb on Me are two different songs.

norma

November 5th, 2009
9:17 pm

I am not mad because Jennifer Hudson was not in the house. I am most made because she did not win one award. I can care less about Bee she is way overrated anyway, and have been for years. Yes, she can sing and dance but she is not all we have to ofter. Jennifer Hudson won a grammy for her album, but could not win a sorry soul train award. I just don’t believe it, get the crap out of here. No freaking way!!!!!! The song spotlight was a hell of a song. People are sick and tired of soul train mess. This is why people don’t come to the show anymore.

Lorna

November 10th, 2009
4:03 pm

I love Chaka Khan. What are all these rumors swirling around that she is a Scientologist? Aren’t Scientologists racist?

[...] I heard actress D.C. native and cohost Taraji Henson say it at the Soul Train Awards, airing later this month on BET and Centric. I mocked her in my blog. [...]

[...] Earlier this month, I heard actress, D.C. native and cohost Taraji Henson (left, with Terrence Howard) say it at the Soul Train Awards, airing Nov. 29 on BET and Centric. I mocked her in my blog. [...]

[...] Earlier this month, I heard actress, D.C. native and cohost Taraji Henson (left, with Terrence Howard) say it at the Soul Train Awards, airing Nov. 29 on BET and Centric. I mocked her in my blog. [...]

Jerkman4

November 20th, 2009
6:47 pm

WE APOLOGIZE FOR THE DELAY: THE SIDE BY SIDE BATTLE PAGE AND THE MALL IS ALMOST COMPLETE…STARTING NOV, 25rd

THE BEST PART:
It will be side by side battle Screens on the Site. You will have the ability to Battle Jerkier throughout the world. You will have the viewers to vote on the best crew… if you think you have the crew or if you think you the best jerker bring it to the GETOFF at http://www.sicknjerk.com. REGISTER TO WIN GREAT PRIZES, $$$$$ AND SHOW THE WORLD WHO IS THE BEST JERK DANCERS!!!!

Good Luck

Check us out on VH1, MTV, BET, Fuse and Centric for your Update…. Starting Nov, 23rd

[...] show over three-plus hours at the Georgia World Congress Center. It airs Sunday after Thanksgiving. I blogged live from there. If you like Robin Thicke, Toni Braxton or Keri Hilson, check out the live performances. Hosts [...]

[...] show over three-plus hours at the Georgia World Congress Center. It airs Sunday after Thanksgiving. I blogged live from there. If you like Robin Thicke, Toni Braxton or Keri Hilson, check out the live performances. Hosts [...]

[...] show over three-plus hours at the Georgia World Congress Center. It airs Sunday after Thanksgiving. I blogged live from there. If you like Robin Thicke, Toni Braxton or Keri Hilson, check out the live performances. Hosts [...]

TayShon

November 27th, 2009
7:19 pm

It is just a sad case to even read, not see the awards show yet that so many artist was’nt present. Do they not understand that soul train was one show that did represent African Americans. I know that artist can make more money focusung on a cross-over audience, but I am a true believer in not forgetting where you come from and not forgetting how you got where you is today, because if it was not for shows like this one showing off our talent some of these people who are in the lime light today would not be there. I know that how I learned to dance by seeing different artist perform. May God bless the show, I am a true fan to the end.

omar venable

November 29th, 2009
9:30 pm

god Bless the soul train awards. Black power

SHUG MAC

November 29th, 2009
10:47 pm

OMG! ROBIN THICK HAS COME OUT THR CLOSET RIGHT ON THE SOUL TRAIN AWARDS! LMAO! WHY WAS HE STANDING LIKE THAT AND ROLLING HIS HIPS IN THOSE TIGHT ASS LEATHER PANTS SINGING LIKE A LIL BITCH!

YoLi PierScot

November 29th, 2009
11:23 pm

I grew with Soul Train from the beginning, and I love every moment of that show every song sang touched on my life. I especially like Angie Stone paying tribute to Chaka Khann, it was so ginuwine. I was alone in my living room with a glass of wine dancing and singing, reliving my best soul train moments, on those Saturday afternoon’s. In the future you should try to find some of those soul train dancers, I went to school with some of them. I think they would be honored and they did make the show.

TYE

November 29th, 2009
11:34 pm

What’s the name of the old song Terrence Howard was singing to Taraji towards the end of the show. Who is it by?

truly blessed

November 30th, 2009
9:54 am

I was very pleased with the Soul Train Awards, everyone sounded great, acoustics and the set were both much more professional than the shows in the past. Some of the artists really showed their true talents. It was a blessing to see us presented in such an upscale way.

elbowz

December 5th, 2009
10:09 pm

Great Show Period! If you have any appreciation to for the history of black music as I do, this was very entertaining. Granted, the production quality was lacking a bit, but the overall ambiance of the entire presentation was electric. this was defiantly the top 3 award shows this year and who ever coordinated and directed the event did a great job! love it!