On Thursday night (Aug. 31), Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI) celebrated the songwriters, producers and publishers of the year’s most-performed R&B and Hip-Hop songs during the 2017 BMI R&B/Hip-Hop Awards held at The Woodruff Arts Center’s Symphony Hall in Atlanta. Multiple Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Patti LaBelle took home the night’s highest honor as BMI Icon in recognition of her distinguished career, spanning more than 50 years.
Hosted by BMI President & CEO Mike O’Neill and BMI Vice President, Writer/Publisher Relations Catherine Brewton with Lifestyle Specialist Kenny Burns as co-host, the evening included stellar performances by some of the hottest talent in music. The night kicked off with Atlanta’s own Big Boi from OutKast performing a medley of “B.O.B.” and “GhettoMusick.” Hip-hop brother duo Ayo and Teo went on to give a dynamic performance of their Billboard Hot 100 hit song “Rolex,” before Keke Palmer and BMI’s Wardell Malloy named Detroit-based rapper Kash Doll BMI’s Social Star, voted on by fans across BMI’s Instagram and Twitter accounts. Jacquees serenaded the audience with his Billboard R&B charting single, “B.E.D.” while Rick Ross kept the energy flowing with a medley of his biggest hits including “Hustlin,’” “Trap, Trap, Trap” and “B.M.F. (Blowin’ Money Fast).”
The second half of the evening featured an array of outstanding tribute performances honoring Patti LaBelle beginning with BMI Trailblazers of Gospel Music honoree, BeBe Winans singing his beautiful version of Ms. LaBelle’s number one single duet with Michael McDonald, “On My Own.” Next up, Avery Sunshine gave a moving rendition of “Love, Need and Want You.” The tributes continued with Gospel vocalist Kierra Sheard’s powerful performance of “When You’ve Been Blessed,” followed by Tasha Cobbs-Leonard singing the classic hit, “You Are My Friend.” Sheard joined Cobbs-Leonard to finish the song, and together they brought the crowd to their feet. Closing out the night, Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Ledisi gave an energetic performance of the massive classic hit, “Lady Marmalade” before calling Ms. LaBelle to the stage where she gave an impromptu performance of “Over the Rainbow” and thanked those who paid tribute to her throughout the evening.
The show also honored the songwriters of the 35 best-performing R&B/Hip-Hop songs in the U.S. from BMI’s repertoire of over 12 million musical works. Metro Boomin took home the Producer of the Year award for the second year in a row and the coveted Song of the Year honor went to “Me, Myself & I” written by Tom Barnes, Lauren Christy, Michael Keenan and Bebe Rexha. Universal Music Publishing Group claimed Publisher of the Year and hitmakers Future, DJ Khaled and Rihanna tied for Songwriter of the Year.