Soul Train Awards To Single Out Whitney Houston, The Artist

Pair will receive Artist of the Decade awards, while Mary J. Blige, DMX will be feted as Entertainers of the Year.

LOS ANGELES — With five Grammys, 21 American Music Awards, 15 Billboard Awards and two Emmys crowding her mantle, Whitney Houston is no stranger to accolades.

But the award she will receive at the 14th Annual Soul Train Music Awards on Saturday (March 4) has a special significance for the R&B star and actress. Houston and The Artist will receive the female and male Artist of the Decade awards at the ceremony, to be held at the Shrine Auditorium.

"It's my own peers, it's my own people," Houston said on Thursday at a party for former Jodeci singer Dalvin DeGrate. "It's a beautiful thing."

Houston said "Soul Train" executive producer Don Cornelius called to inform her personally of the latest honor. She previously has won six Soul Train Awards and is up for two additional honors this year.

The singer attended the party at the Playboy Mansion celebrating DeGrate's debut solo album, Met.A.Mor.Phic (April 18), with her husband, Bobby Brown.

"I love it, I love it — she should be [honored]," Brown said of his wife's new title.

Houston rose to fame in the mid-'80s, fueled by the success of her self-titled debut, which featured such #1 singles as "Saving All My Love for You" and "How Will I Know." She became the first female artist to enter the Billboard 200 albums charts at #1 when her second album, Whitney, was released in 1987.

Houston recently made headlines when security officials at a Hawaii airport allegedly found marijuana in one of her bags. Authorities said the singer boarded her plane before police arrived.

Her latest disc, My Love Is Your Love (1998), has achieved three-times platinum status and this week sits at the #68 spot on the pop singles chart. It includes the Wyclef Jean–produced title track (RealAudio excerpt) and "Heartbreak Hotel," featuring Faith Evans and Kelly Price.

Houston will put out a greatest-hits album later this year, which will feature collaborations with British pop singer George Michael, R&B singer Deborah Cox and Latin-pop star Enrique Iglesias.

The Artist (born Prince Rogers Nelson) was selected as the male Artist of the Decade for his pioneering spirit in regard to Internet distribution during the '90s and for his prolific output during that time, organizers said. He first gained prominence in the early '80s with such sexually charged singles as "I Want to Be Your Lover."

Also receiving special recognition Saturday will be R&B star Mary J. Blige and hardcore rapper DMX, who will receive Entertainer of the Year awards.

R&B trio TLC lead the list of nominees with three nods. Their five-times platinum Fanmail is up for Best R&B/Soul Album, Group, Band or Duo and R&B/Soul or Rap Album of the Year, while their single "No Scrubs" (RealAudio excerpt) is in the running for Best R&B/Soul Single, Group, Band or Duo. Their competition in the Album of the Year category is Mary J. Blige's Mary, DMX's Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood and R. Kelly's R. Among the artists who are nominated in two categories are Blige, Brian McKnight, Ginuwine, Donell Jones, Destiny's Child and Ideal.

The show will include performances by DMX, Destiny's Child, Sisqo, Q-Tip, Juvenile, Blige, Jones featuring TLC's Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes, Blaque, Ginuwine, and Eric Benét and Tamia.

Radio and retail executives and recording artists determine the nominees and winners. The show's hosts will be Lopes, actor Shemar Moore and singers Benét and Tamia.