More family reunion than award ceremony, the festivities featured video tributes to the Queen from longtime colleagues and friends, including MC Lyte, Q-Tip, Common, Jada Pinkett Smith, and director Lee Daniels. Noted Lyte, “She makes you believe, and that’s pretty rare.”
Saluting Queen Latifah’s award-winning and multi-faceted career as a rapper, singer, TV/film actress and philanthropist from inside Eden Roc Miami Beach’s Pompeii Room were Monica (a mentor to the singer early in her career) and Fab 5 Freddy (who initiated Queen’s first label deal with Tommy Boy in the late ’80s).
“I’m emotional tonight,” Harrell said, choking back tears. “I don’t do this but I’m so proud of you,” referencing both Queen Latifah and Revolt chairman Sean “Diddy” Combs. “Behind the scenes or in front, Dana the Queen gives 100 percent and never lets you forget that she’s just a girl from Newark,” added Harrell, who worked with the rapper/singer and her manager Shakim Compere when he was helming Motown.
Before presenting the award, Combs noted, “Queen Latifah is Revolt. She spoke her mind in music and wasn’t afraid to stand up for justice. She’s fearless.”
Holding the gold-colored statuette in the shape of a raised fist Queen Latifah remarked, “This is a perfect award.” Thanking her longtime team, Fab 5 Freddy, her parents (“who taught me who I was and raised me to be a queen”), Harrell and Combs, Queen Latifah closed with a final entreaty: “Don’t put a padlock on your mind. Dream big and believe you can make it happen.”
But the celebration didn’t stop then. Hitting the stage shortly after 1 a.m., Ms. Lauryn Hill brought the house down with an eight-song set that included fervent audience singalongs to “Everything Is Everything,” “Killing Me Softly” and “Doo Wop (That Thing)” as well as Queen Latifah’s “Ladies First” and “U.N.I.T.Y.”
The fourth annual Revolt Music Conference — whose sponsors included Showtime, Cadillac, AT&T, Beats by Dre, Pepsi and Ciroc — ends Sunday (Oct. 15) with its third annual Film Festival for Young Filmmakers.