R&B sensation Ashanti accepted entertainer of the year honors at Saturday’s Soul Train Lady Of Soul Awards despite complaints from some music fans that she didn’t deserve the title. “It’s definitely an honor to just be recognized for such a prestigious award and I’m just so happy to be here with all my people who have been supporting me,” the performer said during the ceremony at the Pasadena (Calif.) Civic Auditorium.
As previously reported, more than 28,000 signatures had been gathered on an Internet petition decrying the decision to bestow the entertainer of the year mantle on Ashanti. A person identified as Rommel Zamora posted the document at PetitionOnline.com.
Ashanti didn’t directly mention the controversy during her brief speech. Patti LaBelle, who presented the award to Ashanti, said the 21-year-old newcomer was “extremely deserving of this wonderful recognition.”
“I got on the plane this morning to come here from Philadelphia because it’s worth it,” LaBelle said. “We have to support our babies… Her overall success of the past year exceeds those of all other female solo artists or groups.”
Ashanti, who led the field with five nominations, also captured one other award: best new solo artist. Released earlier this year, her self-titled Murder Inc./Def Jam debut album has sold more than 2.38 million copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The album debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and The Billboard 200, while lead single “Foolish” topped Billboard’s Hot 100 for 10 consecutive weeks.
Petitioners had complained that Ashanti is not talented enough to deserve the entertainer of the year honor, especially since it is named after the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin. Previous winners include Toni Braxton, Mariah Carey, TLC, and Jill Scott. “It is an insult to other entertainers who are more deserving of this award and Aretha Franklin. Ashanti simply lacks singing ability and stage presence,” the petition states.
The late singer Aaliyah’s single “Rock the Boat” won two awards: best R&B solo single and song of the year. In the group category, Destiny’s Child won best R&B/soul album of the year for “Survivor” and best R&B single for “Emotion.”
The eighth annual awards program was hosted by Arsenio Hall, Scott, and “Soul Train” host Shemar Moore. Winners were determined by an unspecified group of radio programmers, recording artists and music retail employees.
Here is the full list of Soul Train Lady Of Soul Awards:
R&B single, solo: “Rock the Boat,” Aaliyah
R&B single, group, band, or duo: “Emotion,” Destiny’s Child
R&B/soul album, solo: “Songs in A Minor,” Alicia Keys
R&B/soul album, group, band, or duo: “Survivor,” Destiny’s Child
R&B/soul or rap song: “Rock the Boat,” Aaliyah
R&B/soul or rap new artist of the year, solo: “Foolish,” Ashanti
R&B/soul or rap new artist, group, band or duo: “Night & Day,” Isyss featuring Jadakiss
R&B/soul or rap music video: “One Minute Man,” Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott
Gospel album: “Believe,” Yolanda Adams
Aretha Franklin entertainer of the year award: Ashanti
Lena Horne Award for outstanding career achievement: Angela Bassett
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