After a spectacular pre-show that covered classic hits and what to be thankul for this holiday season, the 2020 Soul Train Awards kicked off in spectacular style. Tichina Arnold and Tisha Campbell have returned for the third time in a row to host the magnficent event that is set to feature performances from Babyface, Brandy, CeeLo Green, Charlie Wilson, Ella Mai, Jazmine Sullivan, Lucky Daye, Monica and Smokey Robinson. But that’s not all: a Soul Cypher that features starts like PJ Morton and Chanté Moore, as well as performers like Ella Nicole and Moses Sumney taking over the BET Amplified Music Stage, and more will be taking place as the night goes on.
Twelve awards are going tonight and your favorite artists across the hip-hop and R&B universe will be taking the stage to achieve them. Leading the nominations are H.E.R. with eight nods, Chris Brown with seven, and both Beyoncé and Young Thug both with six. It’s anyone’s game to takeover this year, so make sure that you’re tuning in to see how the show unfolds.
Monica Accepts Lady Of Soul Award And Performs Medley
Monica accepted the legendary trophy for this year’s Lady of Soul Award and gave an emotional speech thanking the many people who played a part in her career.
In a video of performers talking about Monica’s career, Jermaine Dupri, Ella Mai, and more spoke about what makes her such a special R&B talent.
“She had the vocal maturity and versatility of a seasoned artist,” said Dupri when speaking about Monica at the beginning of her career.
“Monica’s music is the most soulful,” said Mai. “I cant mention R&B without saying her name. She’s never been afraid to go against the grain because she’s very unapologetic.”
Monica then hit the stage and thanked God, her family, and the record labels that have gotten her to where she is today.
After taking the award, the singer performed her classic single, “Everything to Me” to give everyone at home a live reminder of why she’s this year’s Lady of Soul winner.
She followed that with “Don’t Take It Personal (Just One Of Dem Days)” and took things back all the way to 1995 when the song was originally released.
Continuing on her trek through her biggest hits, Monica then performed “Before You Walk Out Of My Life” and hopped behind the piano for the spectacle.
She used the piano to transition into “Angel Of Mine” and gave a touching rendition of her 1998 hit song.
Monica brought things full circle when she performed “Trenches,” her recent collaboration with Lil Baby. It showcased just how far she’s come and how elastic her creativity is to last throughout so many eras of R&B and hip-hop.
To bring down the roof, Monica ended her performance set with “So Gone” and turned the energy up to 11. When singing her famous “kick down your door” line, she actually mimicked the motion.
Following the performance, she bowed to her heart’s content and exited the stage with a smile.
Snoh Aalegra Performs “I Want You Around”
Snoh Aalegra took the stage for a mystical performance of “I Want You Around” that defied explanation and expectation.
First appearing in the midst of a moon made out of diamonds, the planet eventually dissolved into a crystalline platform where Aalegra performed.
As stars floated around her in a pink atmosphere, and she created an entirely new world in her breathtaking visual spectacle.
Charlie Wilson And Smokey Robinson Perform “All Of My Love”
Charlie Wilson and Smokey Robinson held it down for the grizzled veterans of love in a one-of-a-kind joint performance of their collaboration, “All Of My Love.”
Wilson started it off and got the crowd warmed up with a smooth intro. Robinson joined him on stage and the two passed the baton back and forth to each other vocally.
It was a spectacular show between performers, with each of the legendary singers snapping and whistling for each other before joining their voices to really give the audience a glimpse into what they can accomplish together.
Wilson then took things into a gospel direction as he sang about praising God before passing the baton to gospel singer Keisha Renee to deliver a powerful vocal sermon about the importance of worship.
Cee-Lo Green Performs An Epic Gogo Music Tribute
Cee-Lo Green has shown his proficiency at covering a wide range of musical styles in his career, and he’s back at it with his latest performance at the Soul Train Awards.
He performed an epic tribute to gogo music that also featured an array of people on stage vibing out to the classic musical style that soundtracks parties everywhere.
H.E.R. Wins Best R&B/Soul Female Artist
H.E.R. took home the award for Best Female/Soul Artist and came out on stage to accept the trophy with an important speech for everyone to hear about the significance of the ceremony and her appreciation for R&B.
“I love being on this stage because this stage is for us,” she said. “This stage represents us and I think it’s very important to not forget where we came from.”
“People say R&B is dead,” she continued. “It’s not dead. R&B is in everything. It has a lot of champions and I consider myself one of them.”
Lucky Daye And Babyface Perform “Shoulda”
How do you make an already epic performer like Lucky Daye‘s live show even better? By including the legendary singer Babyface for a one-of-a-kind joint performance. The two singers hit the stage, Lucky Daye on the microphone, and Babyface on the guitar, as they intertwined voices, and eras of R&B for an unforgettable show of their collaboration, “Shoulda.”
Kirk Franklin Wins Best Gospel/Inspirational Award
Kirk Franklin took home the award for Best Gospel/Inspirational Award and gave a quick, but holy acceptance speech that featured him thanking everyone but, most importantly, the man up above.
Shanice, PJ Morton, Chanté Moore, and Stokley Bring The Soul In Soul Cypher
Following a visually striking performance from Moses Sumney, this year’s Soul Cypher kicked off. First up was Pittsburgh singer Shanice who powerfully belted out a soulful anthem that showcased the extent of her vocal capabilities.
PJ Morton followed up by performing from his place behind a piano before standing up and switching things up to prove his talent as an emcee.
Acclaimed voclalist Chanté Moore came next and began by expressing her excitement at being on the Soul Train stage. She continued on with a warm performance set to a classic R&B instrumental.
Wearing a beret and throwing up the Black power sign, Stokley ended the cypher with a touching ode to love that featured him paying tribute to the queen in his life. All of the artists then came together for a smooth joint show to the instantly recognizable instrumental.
Jazmine Sullivan Shines A Spotlight On The Civil Rights Era In “Pick Up Your Feelings” Performance
In these difficult times that have constituted 2020, we’ve seen just how far that America has to go with racism in order to see true equality.
Jazmine Sullivan addressed racial tension with a cinematic — and extremely retro — performance of her new song “Pick Up Your Feelings.”
In the pre-recorded show, Sullivan started off the performance by walking out of a segregated dress room. On her way to play the song, she walked up a set of stairs that sat next to a wall of Civil Rights-era icons like Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr.
Once she got to the stage, she broke out into a spectacular show that had one person in the audience fearlessly gazing at her brilliance: a presumably racist white audience member.
Wearing a feathery dress, Sullivan controlled the tempo in the room, and erased any tension, as the white man in the audience slowly eased closer to the stage to watch the spectacle unfold. Once he got too close, a Black hand gripped his shoulder and forced him back.
This show of Black power fit the fiery nature of the song and delivered an unforgettable moment at this year’s Soul Train Awards.
Ella Mai Performs “Not Another Love Song”
Black continued to be the fashion theme at the awards this year as Ella Mai hit the stage, with a one-of-a-kind ensemble, for a warm performance of “Not Another Love Song.” With an array of sensual body rolls and gyrating hips from her backup dancers — whose outfits clearly took inspiration from Janet Jackson’s “I Get So Lonely” era — Mai explored the hottest sides of romance in spectacular fashion.
Brandy Wins Soul Train Certified Award
Brandy took home the night’s first prize — the Soul Train Certified Award. The legendary singer thanked BET for its continued support in a touching acceptance speech, which she followed up a soulful performance of “Say Something” and “Borderline.”
Tisha Campbella And Tichina Arnold Kick Off The Ceremony With A Powerful Performance Celebrating Black Women
Tisha Campbell and Tichina Arnold hit the stage to a brief but spectacular mashup of Queen Latifah’s “U.N.I.T.Y.” and Megan Thee Stallion’s “Savage,” announcing that this year’s show is all about Black women.
Photo: Leon Bennett/STA 2020/Getty Images for BET