Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

I had the pleasure of attending and covering the BMI R&B/Hip-Hop Awards Thursday evening for my radio show #UPFRONT. The VIP event took place at Atlanta’s Symphony Hall (Woodruff Art Center) and featured an all-star salute to music icon and Grammy-winning singer, song-writer, actress, author and philanthropist—Patti LaBelle.

Prior to the show was a dazzling red carpet where I interviewed some of the evening’s songwriters, producer and publishers of the year’s most performed R&B/Hip-Hop songs. I also talked to some of the singers who were performing during Miss Patti’s Tribute including BeBe Winans, Avery*Sunshine, Kierra Sheard and Tasha Cobbs-Leonard.

The awards ceremony began with Atlanta’s own Big Boi, who performed songs from his new album, “Boomiverse” as well as some of his classics. Jazze Pha‘s new duo—Ayo and Teo—performed their hit single, “Rolex.” Other performances included Jacquees and his R&B single, “B.E.D” and Maybach Music’s Rick Ross, who performed all of his hits including “Hustlin,’” “Trap, Trap, Trap” and “B.M.F. (Blowin’ Money Fast).”

Big winners this year included Metro Boomin, who took home the Producer of the Year award as well as hitmakers Future, DJ Khaled and Rihanna, who tied for Songwriter of the Year.

The second part of the show featured the all-star tribute to Miss LaBelle, whose career spans over five decades.  BeBe Winans opened the set with his rendition of her hit duet with Michael McDonald, “On My Own.”  R&B songstress Avery Sunshine gave a moving version of “Love, Need and Want You.” Gospel music star Kierra Sheard wowed us with her powerful performance of “When You’ve Been Blessed,” followed by Tasha Cobbs-Leonard singing the classic hit, “You Are My Friend.”

“I was feeling like a queen since I’ve heard I was being honored with the Icon Award. When you hear of other people getting certain awards, you say ‘I want that.’ So evidently I grew up old enough that they gave it me. (LOL) I always say when you get it it’s right on time,” said Miss LaBelle during her red carpet interview.

Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Ledisi gave an energetic performance of the massive classic hit, “Lady Marmalade” before calling Ms. LaBelle to the stage where she gave an impromptu performance of “Over the Rainbow” and thanked those who paid tribute to her throughout the evening.

The evening was hosted by BMI President & CEO Mike O’Neill and BMI Vice President, Writer/Publisher Relations Catherine Brewton with Lifestyle Specialist Kenny Burns as co-host.

Check out all the photos below:

BEBE WINANS 

KEKE PALMER

MISS PATTI LABELLE + LUDACRIS 

BIG BOI

RICK ROSS

FUTURE

AVERY*SUNSHINE

KIERRA SHEARD 

TASHA COBBS-LEONARD

LEDISI

Photo Credits: Getty Images/Paras Griffin for BMI

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