Essence magazine held court Feb. 9 at Playhouse Hollywood for its second annual Black Women in Music celebration honoring Janelle Monae for her "vision, creativity, artistry and style," in the words of Essence.com managing editor Emil Wilbekin. Spotted in the crowd: Universal Motown president Sylvia Rhone, Chairman and CEO of Atlantic Records Craig Kallman, Sean "Diddy" Combs, BET executive Stephen Hill, and President of Essence Communications Michelle Ebanks. The many musicians in the crowd, included singer/songwriter Kem and songwriter/producer Claude Kelly (both current Grammy nominees), RedOne's 2101 Records first signing Mohombi, as well Musiq Soulchild, Mary Mary and Anthony Hamilton Before accepting her award, first-time Grammy nominee Monae took to the stage for a rousing performance that included the songs "Smile" and "Tightrope." Joining her on the latter: special guest Big Boi. Also among those witnessing the proceedings was a camera-shy Prince whose presence created another kind of buzz. Word circulated around the Playhouse that his presence pre-empted the attendance of RSVP'd guests Eric Benét and his fiancé Manuela Testolini -- the Purple One's former wife.

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The evening's honoree with Chairman and CEO of Atlantic Records Craig Kallman. (Photo by Kristian Dowling)
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Musiq Soulchild, President of Universal Motown Records Sylvia Rhone and the ubiquitous Sean 'P Diddy' Combs. (Photo by Frank Micelotta)
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The ArchAndroids: Essence.com Managing Editor Emil Wilbekin, Sean P Diddy Combs, Janelle Monae, Big Boi and President of Essence Communications Michelle Ebanks. (Photo by Mark Davis/PictureGroup)
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Mary Mary sandwich: R&B soul singer Anthony Hamilton between SoCal gospel singers Mary Mary. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/PictureGroup)
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The Belle of the Essence Ball: Monae, shows affection to the head of the Diddy Dirty Money crew. (Photo by Mark Davis/PictureGroup)

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The ladies were all atwitter at the sight of the first artist on hot producer RedOne's 2101 Records: Mohombi. The 24-year-old singer, shown here with BMI's director of media relations Marlene Meraz, just had a new Red One-produced song surface, "Coconut Tree" featuring Nicole Scherzinger. (Photo by Gail Mitchell)


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