Aaliyah's Absence Felt At Lady Of Soul Awards

Jill Scott, 3LW win multiple awards; artists from Destiny's Child to Patti LaBelle pay tribute to Aaliyah.

SANTA MONICA, California — The seventh annual Soul Train Lady of

Soul Awards provided a night of triumph for such artists as Jill Scott, 3LW and

Destiny's Child, though a sadness loomed large over the ceremony as attendees

mourned the loss of one of R&B's most promising young stars.

Throughout Tuesday night's show, performers and winners at the Santa Monica

Civic Auditorium made dedications to 22-year-old singer/actress Aaliyah, who

died along with eight others in a plane crash over the weekend (see "Aaliyah

Killed In Plane Crash").

Destiny's Child set the tone with their show-opening performance of


"This song is dedicated to a very special friend of ours that we

lost, Aaliyah," Kelly Rowland said, introducing the Bee Gees-penned tune from

the stage. Backstage, Beyoncé Knowles appeared to be on the verge of breaking

down in tears as she spoke about her late friend. "She was so sweet,

always," she said, while gripping Kelly's hand. "She was one of the most

beautiful people on the inside as well as out. It's tragic. Every night we

pray for her family and everyone else's family."

Aaliyah's "Try Again" was up for Song of the Year, but lost to gospel artist

Yolanda Adams. "I definitely have to say that Aaliyah was a very special

part of my life," Adams said onstage. "We will miss her."

Patti LaBelle accepted her Lena Horne Award for outstanding career

achievement in Aaliyah's honor. "I know we are all thinking about our friend

Aaliyah," LaBelle told the audience. "All of this happiness I'm getting

tonight is sort of mixed because of something else that's real. Know that

we can't take tonight for granted. Tomorrow is not promised to any of us."

LaBelle said that if Aaliyah's life hadn't been cut short, her bright career

eventually would have earned her a lifetime achievement award. "With her

talent, one day she would have accepted it — I was just doing it

because she's not here," LaBelle later said backstage.

Tyrese, who said he had to break the news of Aaliyah's death to Missy

Elliott and R. Kelly, told reporters, "It's just sad because she's supposed

to be here."

"I've never met her, but I was devastated when I heard," Blu Cantrell, who

performed "Hit 'Em Up Style (Oops!)" during the show, said backstage. "I

think it touched home with a lot of people everywhere, being that she was so

young, so talented and so beautiful. She'll always be a beautiful girl. That

will never end."

Jill Scott was the night's top winner with three honors, including the

pre-announced Aretha Franklin Award for entertainer of the year. "Oh, thank

you — I love me, too," she quipped after DJ Jazzy Jeff presented her

with the honor. She went on to profusely thank her mother, whom she credited

for nurturing her curiosities about music at a young age.

Newcomers 3LW trailed behind Scott with two honors, picking up Best R&B/Soul

or Rap New Artist and R&B/Soul Album of the Year, Group for their

self-titled debut. "We were really nervous, we couldn't believe it, we were

shaking," member Adrienne Bailon said backstage. "We're three girls of

color, and all our lives we've aspired to go up there and actually win these

awards, and it's just a wonderful accomplishment for us." Erykah Badu, Missy

Elliott and Mary Mary also won awards.

Co-hosted by Eve, Luther Vandross, Leeza Gibbons and Shemar Moore, the Lady

of Soul Awards will air in syndication starting Saturday. Scott,

Alicia Keys and Dream were also among the performers.

Suge Knight, head of Tha Row/Death Row Records, apparently crashed the

ceremony, coming through the back door of the auditorium and making his way

all the way up to the front row. A show spokesperson said the record mogul,

who was released from prison earlier this month after serving five years,

was not expected.

Another seemingly unlikely guest — though not a surprise one — was

former Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash. "Soul Train was one of the things I

grew up on, so when I was invited to this [show] I jumped at it," he said.

Seventh annual Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards winners:

  • 2001 Lena Horne Award for outstanding career achievement: Patti LaBelle

  • 2001 Aretha Franklin Award for entertainer of the year: Jill Scott

  • R&B/Soul or Rap Song of the Year: Yolanda Adams, "Open My Heart"

  • Best R&B/Soul Single, Solo: Jill Scott, "A Long Walk"

  • Best R&B/Soul Single, Group, Band or Duo: Destiny's Child, "Survivor"

  • R&B/Soul Album of the Year, Solo: Erykah Badu, Mama's Gun

  • R&B/Soul Album of the Year, Group, Band or Duo: 3LW, 3LW

  • Best R&B/Soul or Rap New Artist, Solo: Jill Scott, "A Long Walk"

  • Best R&B/Soul or Rap New Artist, Group, Band or Duo: 3LW, "No More (Baby

    I'ma Do Right)"

  • Best R&B/Soul or Rap Music Video: Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott, "Get Ur

    Freak On"

  • Best Gospel Album: Mary Mary, Thankful

For a feature interview with Aaliyah, check out "Aaliyah: Been A Long Time". For reaction from fans and other readers, see "You Tell Us: Fans Remember Aaliyah".