The Soul Train Awards always delivers amazing performances. Last night’s (November 26) show once again proved that it is simply not the stage for barely proficient starlets mumble-faking over backing tracks and pitchy playas who are saved only by their backup singers. Yes, the winners count—Bruno Mars dominated last night with five awards, SZA scored two and Solange snagged the Ashford & Simpson Songwriter’s Award. But what makes this slept-on show special is how it encourages R&B, soul and gospel singers to put on their best outfits and show out. Evidence:
A politically charged Bilal, a church-hollering Fantasia and a still-got it Faith Evans killed the 2017 R&B/Soul Cypher; relative newcomer Mali Music held his own.
Kirk Franklin and his choir anchored a special arrangement of “Wake Up” featuring Ledisi, Le’Andria Johnson, Daniel Caesar and Major.
Ro James, Jesse J and a Johnny Gill-channeling Luke James tore up a Toni Braxton medley before Braxton received the Legend Award.
SWV’s effortless 25th anniversary medley was made even better by a genuinely joyful Method Man on “Anything (Ol Skool Radio Version).”