The sixth-annual Black Music Honors promises to be an extra special one this year as it falls on June 19, also known as Juneteenth, which commemorates the end of slavery in Texas and, for the first time in over 150 years, will be observed as a federal holiday formally known as Juneteenth National Independence Day.
The musical ceremony acknowledges some of Black music’s legendary artists who’ve “influenced and made significant musical contributions to African American cultures and American music worldwide.” This year’s honorees include soul/neo-soul singer Angie Stone (Music Icon Award), R&B singer Ginuwine (Urban Icon Award), gospel artist Marvin Sapp (Gospel Music Icon Award) and jazz pianist Ramsey (Legends Award). The National Museum of African American Music will be presented with the Legacy Award.
These artists have not only reached success in their careers in the music business, but their influence could be heard in some of today’s top acts. Atlanta Black Star recently got to sit down with several of this year’s honorees, including Grammy-nominated and chart-topping Ginuwine and Soul Train Lady of Soul winner and songwriter Angie Stone. Both stars discussed some of the advice they received from other acts that arguably contributed to their longevity in the music industry.
Ginuwine made his introduction as a solo artist in 1991 with the single “Pony” off his debut album “Ginuwine…The Bachelor.” From there, he says he hung around 1990’s iconic male R&B group Jodeci during the height of their career. As a result, the singer says he got to “see a lot of the things that I should do and shouldn’t do.” The 50-year-old jokingly said he got to meet “Puffy [Sean Combs] when he wasn’t Diddy, Mary J Blige and just a host of other people.”
Ultimately, the interactions left him with a core set of ethics that he passes to burgeoning artists today, such as the importance of wearing “more than one hat.” Ginuwine stressed that not being active in all areas of your brand early on could easily cause you to overlook career landmines and pockets of potential opportunities. He continued, “Throughout my business, I was so stuck in being an artist I didn’t understand that the wolves were taking a lot of my money, and I never understood it until I got more seasoned in the business and took control over everything that my career had to offer.”
When posed with the same question, Stone took the time to share her moment with soul and R&B singer and songwriter Bessie Regina Norris, better known by her stage name of Betty Wright. The Miami, Florida, native, whose career propelled in the ’70s, is best known for her classic records such as “Clean Up Woman” and “Tonight Is the Night.” Stone detailed what the Grammy Award winner meant to her and how it made her the artist she is today.
“For me, I have to share these flowers with Ms. Betty Wright. Mainly because as a young girl, I listened to her Gladys Knight and all the peoples that people say I remind them of,” she began. Upon meeting, Stone says the two women instantly clicked, and Wright would ultimately take the songstress under her wing. “We both were Sages [Sagittarius ], and we both had the same spirit, same kind of humble heart, and she would teach me along the way when things wouldn’t go the way that they should go,” she continued. “She would always give me a phone call and make sure that I knew ‘Hey, this has happened to me. Shake it off. Don’t worry about it.'”
The “Brother” singer said the three-time Grammy winner’s resilience left a lasting effect on her. “The greatest gift I learned from her was that her faith was unshakable and what she did was in part in me that spirit for ministry just to know that this is not everything in the world, that everything that we got didn’t belong to us, that it belonged to Him. So, as a result, I built my foundation on the spirituality of what Christ had given me,” she explained.
Stone believes the woman who dominated the “whistle register,” a term used for the highest register of the human voice, didn’t get the right kind of recognition an artist of Wright’s stature deserved. “So, as a result, she became my best friend, my buddy in the end right before she passed. I was there with her, and I saw a queen. And I just have to say to everyone. I wanna thank her publicly because she, in my opinion, was one of those ones that didn’t get her roses—not the ones that she deserved,” she added.
The two-hour special will be hosted by comedienne and “The Real” co-host Loni Love with performances by Cece Winans, Montell Jordan, Stokley, Chrisette Michele, After 7 and many more. The Black Music Honors airs Saturday, June 19. Check your local listings for more information, or visit www.blackmusichonors.com.