5th Annual Black Music Honors Celebrates Influential Black Musicians


( ENSPIRE Entertainment ) Deborah Cox, En Vogue, and Fred Hammond Honored as Icons of Black Music, The National Museum of African American Music Received Legacy Award

ENSPIRE Contributor: Adam Cetorelli

On November 21, Bounce TV premiered the 5th annual Black Music Honors, an award ceremony created by television production company Central City Productions to honor Black artists that have made important contributions to American music and culture. Hosted by radio and television personality Rickey Smiley, the night was as powerful as ever, even with the impact of COVID-19 on production. Here are some of the highlights of last week’s event:

For her 25 years in the music industry, Deborah Cox received the Entertainer Icon Award. The Grammy-nominated singer, actress, and activist has had hits in the R&B, Pop, Jazz, and Dance genres over the course of her career, has performed on Broadway, and has repeatedly lent her voice to the ongoing fight against HIV and AIDS. On being chosen as this year’s recipient of the Entertainer Icon Award, Cox said, “I have a lot of gratitude in my heart, just for the fans and the people, for the committee that nominated me at this time, and it really makes me feel like I have staying power, that it’s going to contribute something to my legacy, and I feel like it’s… solidifying my place in history.”

Deborah Cox, recipient of Entertainer Icon Award

R&B/pop group En Vogue received the Urban Music Icon Award for the enduring legacy of their many hits over the years, including “Hold On” and “My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It).” Celebrating 30 years since the release of their first album “Born to Sing,” the group launched new remixes of some of the album’s songs as well as a podcast called “Funky Divas” earlier this year.

En Vogue, recipients of Urban Music Icon Award

Fred Hammond received the Gospel Music Icon Award for his over three decades as a leader in the genre. Previously, he won the 2007 Grammy award for Best Contemporary R&B Gospel Album for his album “Free To Worship.” Over the years, he has written, directed, and executive produced television and film projects. Unfortunately, Hammond was unable to attend the event because he is currently recovering from COVID-19. He reports on his Instagram that he is feeling a lot better since his symptoms began several weeks ago, and is using his story to encourage his followers to remain vigilant in their social distancing practices, saying, “I’m a mask wearer, but… I let my guard down one place” where some family members also tested positive.

Fred Hammond, recipient of Gospel Music Icon Award

The new National Museum of African American Music received the Black Music Honors’ Legacy Award. The Nashville, TN, museum was set to open around Labor Day this year, but this grand opening has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Once opened, NMAAM will offer visitors exhibits that chart the history of African American music genres within broader American history, the Roots Theater which will play an introductory film to content of the museum, and online and in-person special events.

The event included performances by Musiq Soulchild, Raheem DeVaughn, Tweet, MAJOR., June’s Diary, Brian Courtney Wilson, D Smoke, Evvie McKinney, Marvin Sapp, RL, and Sheléa. In addition to award recipients, performers also expressed their gratitude and humility for being a part of the 5th annual Black Music Honors, a celebration whose highlighting of the contributions of Black Americans to American culture is needed more than ever after a year of renewed protests against the police murders of unarmed Black men and women, a pandemic that disproportionately harms and kills Black people in the US, and a presidential election where discussions of race and racism were central. MAJOR., a self-identified optimist, encouraged viewers to be hopeful at the Black Music Honors press conference, saying, “Hope is not the denial of reality, but… is a commitment to believe greater is on the other side of it.” If you missed this year’s Black Music Honors, there’s still time to see it! The show is airing in national syndication through December 13. Information on local showings can be found here.