A soul-stirring performance by honoree Emeli Sandé capped what’s become a popular GRAMMY Week tradition: Essence magazine’s Black Women in Music celebration. Now in its fifth year, the annual salute to rising female artists last night (Jan. 22) warmed up an enthusiastic crowd at new West Hollywood venue 1 OAK — former Sunset Strip venue the Key Club.
Sandé’s short but spirited performance included her signature hits “Next to Me” and “My Kind of Love,” plus an appearance by one of the singer/songwriter’s frequent collaborators, Naughty Boy (“Wonder”). Essence director of entertainment Cori Murray hosted the evening.
Also in the house: Essence president Michelle Ebanks and editor-in-chief Vanessa K. Bush, Atlantic’s president of black music Michael Kyser, BET president of music programming and specials Stephen Hill (spotted dancing feverishly to “Poison” and other hits spun by DJ Kiss), Anthony Hamilton manager Eli Davis, singers Tank, Goapele (sporting a chic, short blonde ‘do) and current GRAMMY nominee Chrisette Michele, Interscope urban publicity chief Yvette Gayle, the Recording Academy’s West regional director Kelley Purcell, Chris Brown manager Tina Davis and Shawn Thompson, manager of multicultural marketing for Lincoln Motor Company.
Lincoln marked its fifth year as the presenting sponsor for Black Women in Music.
A few hours prior to the event, Thompson and Essence execs hosted an intimate, invite-only luncheon in West Hollywood. In addition to meeting Sandé, the gathered print and online journalists were introduced to Lincoln’s newest vehicle, the Lincoln MKC. Going on sale later this year, the model doubles as the focal point of Lincoln’s new “Journey” campaign. Sandé is among a select few featured in the ad campaign (previewed at the luncheon), which revolves around the themes of inspiration, entrepreneurship and people who have followed their dreams.
Noted Thompson, “We’re not just the vehicle you take to the airport. [Lincoln] is on a journey to reintroduce ourselves to African-American consumers.”