Top R&B singers skip Soul Train awards


Can they really call it an awards show if most of the winners don't turn up?

That could be the conundrum facing the organizers of Saturday's decidedly low-key Soul Train Music Awards, which honor the best performers in the soul, R&B and rap fields.

Eight of the 10 winners in the competitive categories did not show up at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium ceremony, including recent Grammy honorees Beyonce, Mary J. Blige, John Legend and Gnarls Barkley.

Oscar-winning "Dreamgirls" actress Jennifer Hudson was the biggest star at the show, collecting a pre-announced award for entertainer of the year.

Other special honors went to producers Jermaine Dupri, winner of a career achievement prize, and Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, who was recognized for his songwriting. As with Hudson, they did not come backstage for interviews.

Nor did the winners of the two competitive categories who showed up: Webstar and Young B., who won the dance cut prize for the tune "Chicken Noodle Soup," and the Isley Brothers, featuring Ronald Isley, who won the best album (group) award for "Baby Makin' Music."

Ronald Isley, who is waiting to begin a 37-month term in federal prison for tax evasion, performed a tribute to James Brown, who was finally buried on Saturday, more than two months after he died.

In the case of former Destiny's Child singer Beyonce, whose chart-topping song "Irreplaceable" was named best single (female), an appearance would have entailed a difficult encounter with former bandmate LeToya Luckett, who co-hosted the show with R&B singer Omarion.

Luckett and LaTavia Roberson were unceremoniously ousted from Destiny's Child in 2000, just as the group was on its way to superstardom. Ensuing breach-of-contract and defamation of character lawsuits were settled out of court in 2002. Luckett gained some validation last year when her debut album was No. 1 on the U.S. pop charts.

Blige won the album (female) award for "The Breakthrough," while Jamie Foxx took the male award for "Unpredictable." Legend won the single (male) prize for "Save Room," and the group prize went to the urban-alternative duo Gnarls Barkley for the worldwide hit "Crazy."

The Soul Train Music Awards, now in their 21st year, are a spin-off of the weekly music TV show "Soul Train," which has served as an important promotional springboard for black music's biggest stars since launching in national syndication in 1971.