This year, the 2021 “Soul Train Awards” presented by BET, commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Soul Train television show legacy.
Marking the milestone with a star-studded event showcasing today’s reigning R&B/Soul artists.
For the very first time, the “Soul Train Awards” took place at the World Famous Apollo in Harlem, NYC and dynamic best-friend duo Tisha Campbell and Tichina Arnold returned as co-hosts of this year’s awards, which premiered on Sunday, November 28, 2021, on BET, BET Her, MTV2 and VH1.
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Adding to the excitement, BET also held the first-ever “Soul Train Awards Weekend,” a three-day multiplatform celebration, that featured several events including the ‘Leading With Soul Luncheon,’ ‘Soul Surprises,’ and the formation of a Guinness World Record-breaking Soul Train line.
The Network also continued its investment in community recovery and wellness with its distribution of $100,000 in microgrants to ten Harlem Businesses and non-profits and helping feed the Harlem community at two local community-based organizations. Watch an encore airing of the 2021 “Soul Train Awards,” Tuesday, November 30, 2021, at 5:30 PM ET/PT on BET.
The 2021 “Soul Train Awards” will air internationally on BET France on December 1, at 10:30 PM CET. The show will also be available to watch on My5 and Sky On-Demand, in the UK, beginning December 3.
R&B/Soul super duo Bruno Mars and Anderson.Paak, Silk Sonic’s stirring rendition of “Fly As Me” kicked off the evening and took us back in time to an exact replica of the iconic Soul Train set. Ciara and Russell Wilson, and Marley Dias received Souls of Justice Award in moving video tribute.
Next was a dazzling performance by songstress Ari Lennox who beautifully sang “Pressure” while commanding the stage in a gorgeous ensemble embellished with white feathers.
Singer/songwriter Lucky Daye had the audience swooning with a sultry performance of his hit song “Over,” which samples Musiq Soulchild’s “Halfcrazy.” Gospel singer Fred Hammond who proclaimed he was turning the show into the “Soul Train Tabernacle Awards,” delivered an empowering rendition of “Yahweh.”
Adding to the impressive lineup, BET Amplified artists Marzz and Elhae also gave memorable performances sponsored by Ford.
Following separate introductions from Mack Wilds and Tone Stith (the latter of which reflected on his own experience performing on the BET Amplified stage), Marzz and Elhae wowed the audience with captivating renditions of “Countless Times” and “FOMO,” respectively.
This year’s highly anticipated Soul Cypher, presented by AT&T, was hosted by the prolific DJ D-Nice and featured the stunning vocal talents of Tone Stith, Koryn Hawthorne, Jac Ross, Elle Varner and Musiq Soulchild.
As a nod to the 20th Anniversary of her self-titled album Aaliyah, the late R&B great’s hit single “Rock the Boat” provided both the theme and instrumental for the thrilling cypher.
R&B/Soul singer Ashanti was crowned “Lady of Soul” at this year’s Awards, an honor sponsored by Walmart and presented to her by Normani, who spoke about emulating her famous style growing up. Ashanti embodied elegance while accepting the award to the backdrop of a cheering audience.
The songstress later returned to the stage for an electrifying performance of some of her biggest hits including “Happy,” “Rain On Me,” “Baby,” and fan-favorite “What’s Luv” with surprise guest Fat Joe, which prompted the audience to sing along.
Ja Rule then joined Ashanti, reuniting the famous 2000’s duo for a crowd-pleasing performance of “Always On Time.” Ashanti ended her performance with her #1 hit, “Foolish.”
Singer/songwriter and producer Leon Bridges gifted the audience with a particularly soulful rendition of “Details.” R&B/Soul sensation Summer Walker gracefully sang fan-favorite “Unloyal,” joined by Ari Lennox and saxophonist Casey Benjamin.
In what proved to be one of the evening’s most special moments, honoree Maxwell was presented with the Ford-sponsored Legend Award by Jazmine Sullivan.
As Sullivan presented the award, she reflected on Maxwell’s influence both on the industry and in her own life, commenting how he was one of the only people who gave her a chance.
After her touching speech about his humble beginnings and rise to success, Maxwell, who transformed his look to resemble his first album cover, accepted the award and expressed gratitude, visibly moved by the emotional moment.
The singer then brought endless soul to the stage, performing a medley of his classics including “Til the Cops Come Knockin’,” “Bad Habits,” “Sumthin’ Sumthin’” new song “Off” and closing out with crowd favorite “Ascension,” as he walked through the crowd, serenading attendees.
Silk Sonic returned to cap the evening off with an energetic 70’s era classic Soul Train-inspired performance of new song, “Smokin’ Out The Window.”
Additional presenters for the evening included Parker McKenna Posey from BET series Games People Play, Paula Patton from BET+ original series Sacrifice, Hosea Chanchez and Wendy Raquel Robinson from The Game, Devale Ellis and Crystal Hayslett from Tyler Perry’s Sistas on BET.
BET also held the first-ever “Soul Train Awards Weekend,” a three-day multiplatform experience that celebrated the best in commerce, music and entertainment. The weekend kicked off with the “Leading With Soul” Luncheon, honoring executives known for meaningful work and leadership.
Sponsored by Dove and hosted by media personality Tai Beauchamp, the luncheon honored Esi Egleston Bracey of Unilever North America with the ‘Corporate Champion Award,’ Louis Carr, a veteran of BET and leader in sales for global brands with the ‘Legacy Award,’ Cheryl McKissack Daniel & Deryl McKissack of McKissack & McKissack, with the ‘Black Business Icon Award’ for their professional design and construction firm, and Jonelle Procope, President and Chief Executive Officer of the World Famous Apollo with the ‘Community Hero Award.’
Another activation during “Soul Train Awards Weekend,” known as ‘Soul Surprises’ consisted of a Soul Train Awards-branded Sprinter van rolling between Harlem, Brooklyn and Queens, delivered cool prizes and experiences, via a prize wheel, which included BET and Soul Train Awards swag, the famous Soul Train Scramble Board, gift cards to Black-owned restaurants with special celeb appearances.
In a stunning feat, BET also invited New York City to gather and form the longest Soul Train Line in history, with the goal of breaking the current Guinness World Record. Never one to disappoint, NYC locals showed out in full force in Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem for what became a successful attempt and new Guinness World Record.
To recognize BET and the legendary Apollo Theater for investing in New York City’s recovery, the 50th anniversary of the iconic Soul Train Show, the 2021 “Soul Train Awards,” honorees, Maxwell and Ashanti, who both hail from New York City, and to highlight the next generation of artists.
The Mayor of the City of New York, Bill de Blasio, along with First Lady Chirlane McCray presented the 2021 “Soul Train Awards” with an official proclamation that Sunday, November 28, 2021, will be known as “Soul Train Music Awards Day” in the City of New York.
BET also launched microgrant program in partnership with The Apollo and the 125th Street Business Improvement District (BID) and expansion of their Harlem Microgrant program launched in 2020 that will provide ten local Harlem businesses and non-profits with $10,000 grants each to support their continued recovery from COVID-19 and to honor the entrepreneurial spirit of Soul Train’s path-breaking innovator and creator, Don Cornelius.
BET also partnered with the United Way to help feed the Harlem community at two local community-based organizations, Harlem Wellness Center in Central Harlem and West Harlem Group Assistance.
BET provided $10,000 grants to each organization, helping to put food on the table for hundreds of Harlem families this November. Each organization hosted live, in-person and COVID-safe food distribution events.
Connie Orlando, EVP, Specials, Music Programming & Music Strategy oversaw the annual show, with Jamal Noisette VP, Specials, Music Programming & Music Strategy to Co-Executive Produce for BET. Jesse Collins Entertainment’s Jesse Collins and Jeannae Rouzan–Clay served as Executive Producers of the 2021 “Soul Train Awards.”
For show information, please visit BET.com/SoulTrain, the official site for the 2021 “Soul Train Awards” and follow the hashtag #SoulTrainAwards on all social platforms.
Also check out the complete list of 2021 “Soul Train Awards” winners.
2021 “Soul Train Awards” Broadcast Restrictions
News programs and services may excerpt portions of the 2021 SOUL TRAIN AWARDS presented by BET telecast during the seven days following the broadcast premiere on November 28, 2021, solely for reporting about the 2021 SOUL TRAIN AWARDS presented by BET as an event and subject to the following conditions.
Up to three minutes in total, but no more than thirty seconds of any single moment or performance, may be used within the period ending the first day following the telecast.
Up to one minute in total, not separate from the three minutes referenced above and no more than thirty seconds of any single moment or performance may be used within the period of the second through seventh days following the telecast.
Any display, exhibition or performance of the material must be accompanied by the chyron, “Courtesy of BET”.
Otherwise, up to thirty seconds of any single moment or performance may be used as part of a wrap-up package through the seventh day following the telecast (For purposes of clarification you may NOT use portions of the 2021 SOUL TRAIN AWARDS presented by BET as standalone video assets).
Any display, exhibition or performance of the material must be accompanied by the chyron, “Courtesy of BET”, and a link to www.bet.com
BET, a subsidiary of ViacomCBS Inc., is the nation’s leading provider of quality entertainment, music, news and public affairs television programming for the African American audience.
The primary BET channel is in 125 million households and can be seen in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom, sub-Saharan Africa and France.
BET is the dominant African-American consumer brand with a diverse group of business extensions including BET+, the preeminent streaming service for the Black audience; BET.com, a leading Internet destination for Black entertainment, music, culture, and news; BET HER, a 24-hour entertainment network targeting the African-American Woman; BET Music Networks – BET Jams, BET Soul and BET Gospel; BET Home Entertainment; BET Live, BET’s growing festival business; BET Mobile, which provides ringtones, games and video content for wireless devices; and BET International, which operates BET around the globe.
Jesse Collins Entertainment
Jesse Collins Entertainment (JCE) is a full-service television and film production company and has played an integral role in producing many of television’s most memorable moments in music entertainment.
The Emmy® nominated company has a multi-year overall agreement with ViacomCBS Cable Networks. On the theatrical film side, the company also has a first look on JCE’s film development projects which could include Viacom’s film entities such as Paramount Players.
The award-winning and critically acclaimed television that JCE has produced includes miniseries—”The New Edition Story” and “The Bobby Brown Story;” scripted series—”American Soul” and “Real Husbands of Hollywood;” unscripted series – “Cardi Tries;” children’s series—”Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices;” award shows—”BET Awards,” “Black Girls Rock!,” “BET Honors,” “UNCF’s An Evening of Stars,” “BET Hip Hop Awards,” “ABFF Honors” and “Soul Train Awards;” specials—”John Lewis: Celebrating A Hero,” “Love & Happiness: An Obama Celebration,” “Change Together: From The March On Washington To Today,” “Stand Up for Heroes,” “Dear Mama,” “Amanda Seales: I Be Knowin’,” “Def Comedy Jam 25” and “Leslie Jones: Time Machine;” as well as competition/game shows—”Sunday Best,” “Hip Hop Squares,” “Nashville Squares” and “Rhythm & Flow.” Jesse Collins, founder and CEO of the company, is the executive producer of all programming.
He is also a co-executive producer for the iconic Grammy Awards. Most recently, he was executive producer of The 2021 Pepsi Super Bowl Halftime Show and produced The 2021 Academy Awards.
He will next executive produce the 2021 American Music Awards. Go to jessecollinsent.com for more information on the company.
The non-profit Apollo is a performing arts presenter, commissioner, and collaborator that also produces festivals and large-scale dance and musical works organized around a set of core initiatives that celebrate and extend the Apollo’s legacy through a contemporary lens, including the world premiere of the theatrical adaptation of Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me and the New York premiere of the opera We Shall Not Be Moved; special programs such as the blockbuster concert Bruno Mars Live at the Apollo; 100: The Apollo Celebrates Ella; the annual Africa Now! Festival; bi-annual Women of the World (WOW) Festival; as well as other multidisciplinary collaborations with partner organizations.
Since introducing the first Amateur Night contests in 1934, the Apollo has served as a testing ground for new artists working across a variety of art forms and has ushered in the emergence of many new musical genres—including jazz, swing, bebop, R&B, gospel, blues, soul, and hip-hop.
Among the countless legendary performers who launched their careers at the Apollo are Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday, James Brown, Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight, Luther Vandross, H.E.R., D’Angelo, Lauryn Hill, Machine Gun Kelly, and Miri Ben Ari; and the Apollo’s forward-looking artistic vision continues to build on this legacy. For more information about the Apollo, visit www.ApolloTheater.org.
“Soul Train” was created in 1971 by visionary Don Cornelius and predominantly featured performances by R&B, pop, soul, and hip-hop artists, in addition to the occasional funk, jazz, disco, and gospel artists.
When the final episode of the show’s historic thirty-five-year run aired in 2006, it was the longest-running first-run, nationally syndicated program in television history. “Soul Train” highlighted a cast of incredible, ethnically diverse dancers who famously introduced the world to a whole new series of dance moves and styles on a weekly basis.
Cornelius opened every show welcoming the audience to “the hippest trip in America” and closed each show wishing the audience “love, peace and soul.” Today, the legacy of “Soul Train” lives on through the legendary Soul Train dance line, which has become a timeless staple on dance floors across America.
In 2016, BET, acquired the “Soul Train” brand and remains dedicated to revitalizing the brand while also honoring its heritage.
SOUL TRAIN HOLDINGS, LLC was formed in May 2008 and is owned by InterMedia Partners and a partnership between Magic Johnson Enterprises and Ron Burkle’s investment firm, The Yucaipa Companies.
The iconic franchise and catalog consist of more than 1,100 episodes and 40 specials from Don Cornelius Productions, Inc. Soul Train is the longest-running, first-run, nationally syndicated music program in television history. During its 35-year run, the show featured lasting innovations such as the Soul Train line and the legendary sign-off “Love, Peace, and Soul.”
At the heart of the show was Don Cornelius, the dancers and influential artists such as James Brown, Al Green, Ike & Tina Turner, Hall & Oates, Donna Summer, Marvin Gaye, The Jackson 5, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Whitney Houston, David Bowie, Prince, Run D.M.C. and Destiny’s Child.
Photo credit: 1-40) BET Awards.