The Black Music Honors Were A Celebration Of Legacy

As we approach Black Music Month, it’s the perfect time to reflect on the incredible achievements and advancements made in Black American music. From jazz to hip-hop, Black musicians have been the pioneering forces behind the genres we cherish today. The ninth annual Black Music Honors in Atlanta provided a fitting tribute to some of these trailblazers, celebrating their monumental contributions to the industry.

This year, the ceremony honored an illustrious group of icons: Bootsy Collins, a legendary figure in funk music, received the Legend Award; Patrice Rushen, renowned for her work as a musician and producer, was given the Lifetime Achievement Award; Johnny Gill, a powerhouse in the R&B scene, was recognized with the R&B Soul Icon Award; and Hezekiah Walker, a significant influence in gospel music, was honored with the Gospel Music Icon Award.

ATLANTA, GEORGIA – MAY 18: Honoree/singer Hezekiah Walker attends 9th Annual Black Music Honors at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre on May 18, 2024 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Black Music Honors)

The star-studded evening didn’t stop with the award recipients. It featured appearances from a constellation of music stars, including David and Tamela Mann, Next, Donald Lawrence, Syleena Johnson, Carl Thomas, Ricky Dillard, SWV, Total, 702, and Ceelo Green, among others. Each performer and presenter contributed to the night’s celebration of Black music excellence.

Each honoree was celebrated with tribute performances from their peers, who delivered electrifying renditions of their chart-topping hits. Johnny Gill received a heartfelt tribute from Tone Stith and After 7, while Hezekiah Walker was honored through powerful performances by Kim Burrell, Donald Lawrence, Ricky Dillard, and Jekalyn Carr. Bootsy Collins’ musical legacy was celebrated with energetic renditions by MonoNeon, Mali Music, BLK ODYSSY, Ceelo Green, and Mr. Talkbox. Patrice Rushen’s tribute featured the soulful voices of Chrisette Michele and Marsha Ambrosius.

In a touching surprise, MC Lyte, a groundbreaking artist in hip-hop, received a special honor recognizing her immense contributions to the genre. All the honorees expressed a profound sense of fulfillment, describing it as a full-circle moment to be “honored by an audience of their peers.” During their acceptance speeches, they took time to thank God, reflecting on their journeys and the significance of this recognition.

The ceremony was co-hosted by the talented LeToya Luckett and the charismatic DeRay Davis, who kept the energy high and the audience engaged throughout the night. “You know this is my sixth year hosting the Black Music Honors,” Luckett tells ESSENCE. “And I’m so glad. Every show is different. Every show we get to honor someone who is well deserving of their flowers.”

As we celebrate Black Music Month, the Black Music Honors serves as a powerful reminder of the rich legacy and ongoing influence of Black musicians. Their artistry and innovation continue to shape the musical landscape, inspiring generations to come.

The televised special will premiere on the Stellar Network Saturday, June 1 at 8pm EST with a rebroadcast at 10pm EST and air in national broadcast syndication June 8 – June 30 in tribute to Black Music Month. The show will also air on Bounce TV Wednesday, June 19th (Juneteenth) at 9pm EST. 

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