Producers of the Soul Train Awards are prepping their biggest event yet. The 2013 edition of the urban music celebration takes place on Nov. 8 at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas (it airs Dec. 1 on BET), where a new venue promises a grander, two-stage production worthy of the marquee names being honored.
Among the nominees: Kendrick Lamar leads with a tally of six including best new artist, album of the year and song of the year. Just behind the hip-hop newcomer are Miguel, Justin Timberlake, Robin Thicke, Chris Brown, Tamar Braxton and Janelle Monae, each with five noms.
Presenters scheduled to appear include Bill Bellamy, Boris Kodjoe, Vanessa A. Williams, Vivica A. Fox, Kandi Burruss, Michelle Williams and Vanilla Ice. Confirmed performers are Chaka Khan, Jennifer Hudson, Gladys Knight, Tamar Braxton, American Idol’s Candice Glover and Ruben Studdard, Warren G. and Big Daddy Kane, among others.
Actor and comedian Anthony Anderson hosts the show, while today, it was announced that popular talk show host Wendy Williams will handle red carpet duties for the broadcast. “She is an amazing television personality and that translates incredibly well to a red carpet host,” says executive producer Bart Phillips. “It's what she does, talking to celebrities, her energy and pushing the envelope, which is what Soul Train is all about.”
In many ways, these are not your parents’ Soul Train Awards. For one thing, the show has added a second stage (see rendering below), which will feature a rotating mix of DJs including Big Tigger and D-Nice. But while it lunges forward, it also looks back, honoring the soul soundtrack of the 90s this year via influential black cinema and R&B hits of the day.
But perhaps most importantly, adds Phillips, is having Soul Train Awards’ acts perform “100 percent live -- no tracks here.” It’s all part of a legacy that goes back decades to syndicated dance show Soul Train’s first broadcast in 1971. Says Phillips: “So many legends were made on the infamous Soul Train stage. The music is the core and that is what keeps Soul Train relevant today, both with the people who grew up running to their TVs on Saturday morning and to today's youth.”
With that in mind, the bill brings together artists who’ll inevitably pay homage to what came before them. Joss Stone, for example, will participate in a “Blue Eyed Soul” segment during the show, while Wale will incorporate hip hop into the live band’s interstitial repertoire and beyond.
This year’s motto is “We Got Soul” and they mean it. Adds Phillips: “It's a party! People aren't going to want to miss this. We have so many surprises planned. It's all about the 90s this year!”