Ari Lennox, Muni Long Perform; Xscape, Morris Day Honored at Soul Train Awards 2022

Living up to its tagline as “the feel-good party of the year,” Soul Train Awards 2022 delivered two hours of impactful performances and special tributes focusing on R&B’s multigenerational appeal.

Taped earlier this month at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas and premiering Saturday evening (Nov. 26) on BET, the festivities opened with singer-songwriter Muni Long. The newly minted Grammy nominee’s performance featured an onstage re-enactment of her seductive breakthrough hit “Hrs and Hrs” together with single “Plot Twist” about a cheating former lover, co-starring a cast that included DC Young Fly.

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Between running gags about not being able to read the teleprompter and working to keep the show on schedule, comedian/actor Deon Cole kept the audience laughing throughout his debut as the show’s host. Welcoming “all Nick Cannon’s kids” during his initial remarks to the audience, Cole also paid tribute to Migos rapper Takeoff and other fallen artists due to gun violence.

An ensuing string of potent performances by both OG’s and next-gen artists underscored Cole’s declaration that “R&B ain’t dead at all,” beginning with a captivating turn by Ari Lennox on “Waste My Time.” Tank and J. Valentine heated up the stage with their sensuous hit “Slow,” while SiR performed his new single “Nothing Even Matters.” Celebrating the 30th anniversary of her debut album, Precious, Chanté Moore treated the audience to a hits medley that included “Love’s Taken Over,” “Chanté’s Got a Man” and a stirring “It’s Alright,” which elicited audience cheers when Moore hit and held a high soprano note during that performance.



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The award show’s traditional Soul Cypher segment was helmed this year by producer/DJ D-Nice with artists Muni Long, Durand Bernarr, Alex Vaughn and gospel singer Tasha Cobbs Leonard riffing and harmonizing on “Human Nature” in honor of the 40th anniversary of Michael Jackson’s Thriller album. And in a nod to newcomers on the R&B scene, the BET Amplified Stage showcased artists Coco Jones (“ICU”) and Q (“Today”).

Jermaine Dupri presented the first of the evening’s two special honors: the Lady of Soul Award to Xscape. The songwriter-producer’s first encounter with the ’90s girl group — Kandi Burruss, Tameka “Tiny” Harris, LaTocha Scott and Tamika Scott — occurred when they sang at his birthday party. “It blew me away when they sang ‘Happy Birthday,’” he recalled. “I said, I’m going to sign you … but I had no record label.”

When Dupri eventually launched So So Def Recordings, the first act he signed was Xscape. “People didn’t have belief; thought I was crazy,” Dupri noted. “But 30 years later, we’re here.” Thanking God, Dupri, their moms, husbands and fans, the quartet delivered a crowd-pleasing performance spotlighting such singalong classics as “Just Kickin’ It” with Dupri, “My Little Secret,” “Who Can I Run To?,” ”Tonight” and “Understanding” — with their pristine harmonies still intact.

Morris Day & The Time, recipients of the Legend Award, closed out the evening with a rollicking set that had the audience partying in the aisles to “Cool,” “777-9311,” “Jungle Love” and, of course, “The Bird,” featured in the 1984 film Purple Rain. Actor/comedian J.B. Smoove presented the award to Day and his mirror-toting side man Jerome Benton.

“I remember seeing the movie and being struck by two things,” said Smoove referencing Prince’s heeled boots and “that light-skin dude with the smooth dance moves. He had all the ladies; he even took Prince’s girl … just for a minute. And the band Time was funky fun.”

“For the last 40-plus years, I’ve been living and breathing music,” said Day after Smoove’s presentation. “It’s been a hell of a ride.” Thanking family, business colleagues, BET/Soul Train and the members of Time — whose original lineup included Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis — Day added, “And thanks most of all, may he rest in peace, to my brother Prince. You all know what he meant to me.”

Additional presenters on Soul Train Awards 2022, which also premiered Nov. 26 on BET HER, LOGO, MTV2 and VH1, included Queen Naija and Lucky Daye. The Soul Train Awards Red Carpet Special preceded the formal ceremony. Tank, LeToya Luckett and Novi Brown of Tyler Perry’s Sistas served as co-hosts. Pre-show performances and appearances were made by Baby Tate, DIXSON, J. Holiday, FLO and Vedo.

Encore broadcasts of the Soul Train Awards 2022 are slated for Sunday (Nov. 27) at 8 p.m. ET/PT and Thursday (Dec. 1) at 9 p.m. ET/PT on BET.

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