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‘Empire’ Star Jussie Smollett Honored by Black AIDS Institute (WATCH)

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*”Empire” star Jussie Smollett was recently honored by the Black AIDS Institute during their annual “Heroes In The Struggle” (H.I.T.S) gala and awards presentation. H.I.T.S is a photographic tribute to Black Americans and their Allies who have made heroic contributions to the fight against HIV/AIDS.

In the past 15 years, nearly 100 celebrities, politicians, corporations, religious leaders as well as people living with HIV/AIDS have been inducted into the exhibit. These honorees include President Bill Clinton, Ervin (Magic) Johnson, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Bishop T.D. Jakes and many more.

With the overwhelming success of the first season of “Empire” and the cast heavily campaigning for EMMY Nominations, Smollett could soon be in the running for the coveted acting award. However, he shares that his first career honor as one of the “Heroes In The Struggle” is what’s most important to him.

“I got the call from Phil Wilson (President and CEO, Black AIDS Institute) who’s been one of my mentors since I was sixteen. He asked if I would be honored by the organization and I said of course” he exclaimed.

“I love what the Black AIDS Institute has done and all of the lives that they’ve changed. I love Phil and to be honored by him is everything.”

Smollett’s honor was presented to him by his sister Journee as well as fellow actor and personal friend of Jussie’s, Wilson Cruz (Red Band Society, My So-Called Life). The gala was hosted by actor Brian White (Scandal) Presenters included: Shaun Robinson, host of Access Hollywood, Shanola Hampton (Shameless) and Elvis Nolasco (American Crime). Legendary actor and emeritus board member Danny Glover also gave remarks during the event. GRAMMY nominated artists Angie Fisher and B. Slade were the evening’s musical guests.

In addition to social activism, Smollett is also passionate about his music. He shares that he’ll be recording his debut album, “sometime within the next year.” However, fans of Jamal Lyon can expect him to debut a plethora of new music throughout the highly anticipated second season of Empire with producers Timbaland, Swizz Beats and Ne-Yo.

Smollett joins Vanessa Mills, executive director of Empower U community health Center; Gregorio Millett, Vice-President and Director of public policy for The American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAr) and Janssen Therapeutics as the 2015 “Heroes In The Struggle” award recipients.

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Music

Drake Says 2021 Grammys Nominations Shows ‘Disconnect Between Impactful Music’

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 *Drake has chimed in on the outcry over the 2021 Grammy nominations after The Weeknd called out the Recording Academy for being “corrupt.”

The lineup of 2021 Grammy nominees was revealed last week, and The Weeknd received zero nominations, even though, as TMZ points out, his single, “Blinding Lights,” topped the charts and his album, “After Hours,” hit to #1.

The Weeknd responded to the diss in a tweet hours after the nominees for the 63rd Grammy Awards were announced on Tuesday.

“The Grammys remain corrupt,” he wrote. “You owe me, my fans and the industry transparency…”

READ MORE: Beyonce Leads Grammys 2021 Nominations, Kanye West Considered ‘Christian’ Artist


Drake also made time to speak out about how the annual music awarda show is having a “disconnect” from recognizing “impactful music.” 

“I think we should stop allowing ourselves to be shocked every year by the disconnect between impactful music and these awards and just accept that what once was the highest form of recognition may no longer matter to the artists that exist now and the ones that come after,” Drake wrote on his Instagram story. 

Drake has won four Grammys, but even he dissed the ceremoney onstage at the 2019 show.

“It’s like a relative you keep expecting to fix up but they just can’t change their ways,” continued Drake. “The other day I said @theweeknd was a lock for either album or song of the year along with countless other reasonable assumptions and it just never goes that way.”

Drake added that now is “a great time” for someone to “start something new that we can build up over time and pass on to the generations to come.”

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Drake on the Grammys

Meanwhile, TMZ reports that The Weeknd’s Grammy snub may have to due with him headlining next year’s Super Bowl, but Harvey Mason Jr., Recording Academy Chair and Interim President/CEO, tells PEOPLE that’s not the case.

In a statement to the publication, he said “We understand that The Weeknd is disappointed at not being nominated,” Mason Jr. says. “I was surprised and can empathize with what he’s feeling. His music this year was excellent, and his contributions to the music community and broader world are worthy of everyone’s admiration.”

According to TMZ’s report, Grammy officials gave The Weeknd an ultimatum between the two events, and after heated negotiations, they came to an agreement. 

“We were thrilled when we found out he would be performing at the upcoming Super Bowl and we would have loved to have him also perform on the GRAMMY stage the weekend before,” Mason Jr. adds in his statement. “Unfortunately, every year, there are fewer nominations than the number of deserving artists. But as the only peer-voted music award, we will continue to recognize and celebrate excellence in music while shining a light on the many amazing artists that make up our global community.”

“To be clear, voting in all categories ended well before The Weeknd’s performance at the Super Bowl was announced, so in no way could it have affected the nomination process. All GRAMMY nominees are recognized by the voting body for their excellence, and we congratulate them all,” the statement continues.

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Lifetime Sets Premiere Date for Wendy Williams Biopic

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*Lifetime’s biopic on Wendy Williams is set to air in January.

We previously reported, Ciera Payton has been cast to portray the talk show host while Morocco Omari will portray Williams’ ex-husband Kevin Hunter.

The TV host is teaming with super-producer Will Packer for the project, which will chronicle her early days in radio up to her split from her husband and business partner. Wendy and Kevin called it quits after he knocked up his mistress Sharina Hudson.

The biopic is about “her scrappy upstart days in urban radio to the success of her own syndicated talk show,” a release said, via Page Six

READ MORE: Asian Doll Accuses Wendy Williams of Buying Drugs From ‘Criminals’ in Diss Over Dating Serial Killer

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Here’s more via TMZ:

Lifetime sources tell TMZ … the biopic spans her life from ages 10 to 55, covering super intimate topics like her coke habit, sex romps, fat shaming from her family and a never-before-told story of date rape at the hands of a chart-topping artist.

Also on the table, according to our sources … her experiences with racism and sexism in Hollywood, details from her marriage to Kevin Hunter as well as her divorce and her relationship with Mo’Nique.

The official press release claims: “The authorized project provides a revealing look at Wendy’s journey, from her scrappy upstart days in urban radio to the success of her own syndicated talk show.”

“Wendy Williams: The Movie” premieres Saturday, Jan. 30 at 8 pm ET/PT, followed by the documentary The Wendy Williams Story… What a Mess! airing at 10 pm.

Urban Hollywood reports that Lifetime will also air the new documentary, “Whitney & Bobbi,” about the late Whitney Houston and her daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown, who died at age 22 in 2015.

“Whitney & Bobbi” premieres on Saturday, Feb. 6 at 10 pm ET/PT.

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Winners List for 2020 Soul Train Awards Hosted by Tisha Campbell & Tichina Arnold / VIDEO

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*(NEW YORK, NY)  – The 2020 “Soul Train Awards” celebrated the best in soul, R&B and hip hop by highlighting both living legends and breakout stars with unrivaled musical moments and show-stopping performances. The awards show, which aired this evening, November 29, 2020 at 8 PM EST on BET, BET Her, VH1 and MTV2 was hosted by the iconic best friend duo Tisha Campbell and Tichina Arnold, who also brought their chemistry to the stage as the show’s opening musical acts.

Chris Brown led the pack as the evening’s most awarded artist, dominating in four categories including Best R&B/Soul Male Artist and the shared honors of Song of the Year, Best Dance Performance and Best Collaboration with Young Thug for their hit “Go Crazy.”  H.E.R. followed closely with two awards: Best R&B/Soul Female Artist and The Ashford & Simpson Songwriter’s Award for “I Can’t Breathe.”

 MORE NEWS: Pregnant Summer Walker Slams Boyfriend London On Da Track, Claims He’s a Deadbeat Dad

Honoring artists across 12 categories, the 2020 “SOUL TRAIN AWARDS” also recognized Summer Walker (Album of the Year), Megan thee Stallion  (Rhythm & Beats Award), Brandy (Soul Train Certified), Beyoncé, Blue Ivy, Saint Jhn & Wizkid (Video of the Year), Snoh Aalegra (Best New Artist) and Kirk Franklin (Best Gospel/Inspirational Award) for their special contributions to the genre.

The hosts kicked things off with an electrifying song and dance tribute to the power of Black women. Brandy performed a medley of her recent hits “Say Something” and “Boderline.” Ella Mai  sang her latest single “Not Another Love Song.” Lucky Daye shut the stage down with Babyface for a performance of their new collaboration “Shoulda.” Charlie Wilson performed a duet with Smokey Robinson before honoring the memory of gospel legend Rance Allen with a rousing tribute. Additional performers included Jazmine Sullivan, Snoh Aalegra and CeeLo Green. After accepting the Lady of Soul Award, Monica brought down the house with a jam-packed performance of her chart-topping hits.

In addition to electrifying performances, this year’s highly anticipated Soul Cypher featured R&B stars PJ Morton, Chanté Moore, Shanice and Stokely. Ella Nicole and Moses Sumney took the BET Amplified Music Stage, a platform for emerging artists.  Presenters included Andra Day, Tessa Thompson, Nnamdi Asomugha, Deon Cole, Nicco Annan, Dallas Austin, Jermaine Dupri and Brandee Evans.

The full winners list for 2020 “SOUL TRAIN AWARDS” is below

2020 “SOUL TRAIN AWARDS” WINNERS
Best New Artist – Snoh Aalegra
Soul Train Certified Award –Brandy
Best R&B/Soul Male Artist – Chris Brown

Best R&B/Soul Female Artist – H.E.R.

Video of the Year – Beyoncé, Blue Ivy, Saint Jhn & Wizkid “Brown Skin Girl”
Best Gospel/Inspirational Award – Kirk Franklin

Album of the Year – Summer Walker “Over It”

Rhythm & Bars Award – Megan thee Stallion “Savage”
Song of the Year 
– Chris Brown & Young Thug “Go Crazy”

The Ashford & Simpson Songwriter’s Award – “I Can’t Breathe,” Written by H.E.R.
Best Dance Performance – Chris Brown & Young Thug “Go Crazy”
Best Collaboration Performance – Chris Brown & Young Thug “Go Crazy”

Connie Orlando, EVP Specials, Music Programming & Music Strategy at BET, along with Jesse Collins, CEO of Jesse Collins Entertainment (JCE), and JCE’s Jeannae Rouzan–Clay and Dionne Harmon  will Executive Produce the 2020 “SOUL TRAIN AWARDS.”

For show information, please visit BET.com/SoulTrain, the official site for 2020 “SOUL TRAIN AWARDS.”

source: Vaughn Alvarez / [email protected]

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