Hosted for the second time by the always charismatic and comical Neo Soul pioneer Erykah Badu, the 2016 Soul Train Awards was full of unforgettable performances, and pleasant surprises. These surprises featured everything from Dru Hill’s opening of the show with a blitz of their 90s hits, the sultry Teyana Taylor winning the first award of the evening for Best Dance Performance, and the first ever “Soul Sypher” featuring Ne-Yo, Angie Stone, Tyrese, and the legendary Gladys Knight.
Held at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, “the hippest award show in America” aired Sunday night at 8PM ET/PT on Centric and BET.
This year’s show featured countless crowning moments including the presentation of the Legend Award. Who was this year’s recipient? None other than the incomparable singer, songwriter, musician and record producer Teddy Riley.
The multi-talented Edward Theodore “Teddy” Riley is known to many soul music fans as a member of the R&B groups Guy and Blackstreet. However, those of us who love soul music on a deeper level realize that in addition to singing and performing, Riley has a songwriting and production resume, that could only be channeled with the best.
Born in Harlem, New York, the creator of New Jack Swing became a child prodigy at the age of 5, while playing instruments in church. His uncle, who owned the famed Harlem club The Rooftop, built a studio in the club in which Riley spent most of his time while growing up. By the time he was 14, many New York rappers began making music to his tracks. Under the guidance of local music producer Gene Griffin, Riley formed the short-lived group Kids at Work. At the tender age of 17, Riley produced hip hop pioneer Kool Moe Dee‘s 12″ single, “Go See the Doctor”. Released on an independent label in 1986, the song became a crossover hit, reaching #89 on The Billboard Hot 100. Riley had also previously worked on the production of Doug E. Fresh and the Get Fresh Crew‘s “The Show” in 1985.
Little did he know, this taste of success, would eventually lead to him being one of the most sought after producers in history. Having a massive impact and seminal influence on the formation of contemporary R&B, hip-hop, soul and pop, Riley eventually became a household name. Pretty soon his list of clients included Bobby Brown, Snoop Dogg, Keith Sweat, Robin Thicke, Mary J. Blige, Lady GaGa and the King of Pop Micheal Jackson among others.
Decked in all white,with his keytar in tow. Riley later took the stage to perform a medley of his own hits, in addition to the hits that he helped to create for others such as Keith Sweat’s “I Want Her”, Johnny Kemp’s “Just Got Paid,” Heavy D’s “Now That We Found Love” He was soon joined by rising star V. Bozeman who beautifully performed her version of SWV’s “Right Here”, and then by (wait for it…) Micheal Jackson’s big brother Tito for a rousing rendition of Jackson’s “Remember The Time”!
Just as things couldn’t get any better, Aaron and Damion Hall of Guy appeared. Since the guys haven’t performed together in years, this was truly unexpected nostalgia at its finest. With their dance floor anthems, “Let’s Chill”, “Groove Me”, and “I Like’, the guys had the crowd on their feet singing along with extreme delight.
Soon after, Bobby Brown appeared to perform his iconic smash “My Perrogative” and the tribute brilliantly ended with Wreckx -N- Effect performing their 1992 club banger “Rump Shaker”.
Other honorees included singer/actress Brandy Norwood who was the recipient of this year’s Lady of Soul Award. As the crowd gleefully sang along, the Mississippi born, California bred Brandy melodically took everyone back down memory lane with her countless hits. Decked in all black, along with a black backdrop, she was then joined onstage by a white fur coat clad Ma$e, as they performed their 1998 duet “Top Of The World.” The crowd roared with excitement. If only Monica could have been present for “The Boy Is Mine”. Norwood’s well-deserved accolade was presented by to her by fellow songstress and past Lady of Soul Award winner Jill Scott.
With so many “WOW” moments one can’t help but wonder what’s in store for next year!