The Scene: 2018 BMI R&B HipHopAwards

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Janet Jackson once said, “Without joyful music, the world is less joyful,” and on that night she added fuel to fires of a theater full of celebrities, creatives, change agents and culture influencers, all planning to make their next move, their best move.

That night was last night, at Symphony Hall in Atlanta, for the 2018 BMI R&B HipHop Awards. Before Ms. Jackson had us hanging on her every word, I drank Don Julio, on the rocks with lime, and caught up with mentors turned colleagues, bosses turned friends, executives turned clients and everything in between. We exchanged “let get ups” and “can you take one mores” to a soundtrack by DJ OhSo and the legendary DJ Jelly, while poppin’ crab cakes and coconut shrimp like altoids. And finally, after stripping a seemingly boring white wall of all its radiance by beating it with flashes for our Terry Richardson inspired portraits, we the real show was set to begin. And, boy, did it begin!

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For starters, Tamela Mann brought the house to their feet with “Precious Lord” in tribute to the Queen of Soul -Aretha Franklin. After the awards presentation, the show concluded with the presentation of the “BMI Icon” Award and tribute to Ms. Jackson.

The moment kicked off with Ciara introducing the 411 Dance Troupe, comprised of 50 kids from all over the South, as they performed a dance routine choreographed by Sean Bankhead. The performances continued with H.E.R who performed a medley of “Black Cat” on guitar and sang “Any Time, Any Place.”  Jussie Smollett from the FOX smash, “Empire” followed with “That’s the Way Love Goes,” Justine Skye sang a beautiful version of “Let’s Wait Awhile” and Normani had the audience grooving to “The Pleasure Principle.” Teyana Taylor closed out the tribute performances with a sultry rendition of Jackson’s hit, “I Get Lonely,” followed by Missy Elliot who made a surprise appearance and spoke eloquently about her relationship with Jackson while quoting her lyrics throughout the touching speech.  

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Keep jammin’ Janet, keep birthin’ hits BMI keep stuntin’ Atlanta!