Rapper and music producer Sean ‘P. Diddy’ Combs arrives at the ASCAP Rhythm and Soul Music Awards in Beverly Hills, Calif. on Friday, June 24, 2011. The awards show honors songwriters and publishers of the most performed ASCAP songs in the 2010 R&B/Hip-Hop, Rap, and Gospel charts. (AP Photo/Dan Steinberg)
Mary Mary, photo by Darlene Donloe
Nicole George, photo by Darlene Donloe
Andrea Martin, photo by Darlene Donloe
Suzanne de Passe, photo by Darlene Donloe
The gospel group Mary Mary and hip hop mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs were recognized for their contributions to the music industry at ASCAP’s 24th Annual Rhythm & Soul Music Awards, held recently in the International Ballroom at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills. ASCAP is the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.
The red carpet was rolled out for songwriters and publishers of the most performed ASCAP songs on the 2010 R&B/hip hop, rap and gospel charts.
Mary Mary received the Golden Note Award, given to songwriters, composers and artists who have achieved extraordinary career milestones.
“I screamed when I found out we were being honored,” said Tina Campbell of Mary Mary. “We are thrilled beyond measure. I remember making up songs as a little girl. We started this journey 11 years ago, and I remember when we were holding a tape recorder in our bedroom recording songs, so it really is a special honor. We completely appreciate this.”
“This is so surreal,” said Erica Campbell of Mary Mary. “On the journey there have been bumps and bruises. My crazy sister, we’ve been on this journey together. We didn’t have a mission to bring gospel mainstream, we just wanted to sing for the world. No matter what country you are from or what race you are, everybody needs to be inspired. I can’t explain how overwhelmed I am. It’s great to be acknowledged by writers who do what you do. For songwriters, if you have a pen, you have a job.”
During the presentation, video clips were shown highlighting the Grammy winners’ careers. The duo has sold more than 5 million albums and had several #1 Billboard singles.
The gospel duo, who grew up in Inglewood, CA, received a standing ovation from the crowd after singing the hit song, “Yesterday.”
Past recipients of the Golden Note Award include Sean “Diddy” Combs, Jermaine Dupri, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Alicia Keys, Jay-Z, Quincy Jones, LL Cool J, New Edition and Lionel Richie.
Dr. Dre presented Combs with the Founders Award, one of ASCAP’s most prestigious honors. Dr. Dre won the award the previous year. It’s given to songwriters and composers who have made pioneering contributions to music by inspiring and influencing their fellow music creators.
Other previous recipients include Smokey Robinson, Ashford & Simpson, Stevie Wonder, Berry Gordy Jr. & Motown Industries, Paul McCartney, Garth Brooks and Billy Joel.
“I always look forward to this night,” said ASCAP President Paul Williams. “Diddy, how can you live in this world and not know him? You’ve gotta have a sense of Diddy.”
DJ Clark Kent honored Combs by spinning the multifaceted entertainer and businessman’s hits while showing a video compilation he produced, which highlighted Comb’s career accomplishments.
After which, Combs, who called Dr. Dre his “favorite producer in the world,” took the stage and thanked everyone who helped him along the way, including college friends from Howard University, Harve Pierre (Bad Boy Records) and Mark Pitts (Jive Records/Bystorm Entertainment) whom, he said, allowed him to sleep on their couch in college when he was temporarily homeless.
“I’ve always been asked if I thought I would be where I am today,” said Combs. “I always say, ‘I did.’ I usually exude an extraordinary amount of confidence, and it’s not to be cocky, I just realized that in order for my dreams to come true, I had to exude an extra ordinary amount of faith in God. In order for my dream to come true I had to put faith in my dreams and God and believe they would come true.”
Combs, who said his favorite quote is “Don’t be afraid to close your eyes and dream, then open your eyes and see,” went on to say that the honor was “humbling.”
“I’m standing here alone, but I didn’t do this alone,” said Combs. “Being in the music industry is a dream come true for me. I want to thank music. I fell in love with music at age five. Music runs the world at the end of the day.”
The rap group Dirty Money (Dawn Richard and Kalenna Harper), founded by Combs, came out to support him.
“It’s a blessing to be able to sit with someone like Puff and be able to make great music with him, it’s exciting,” said Richard.
“His award is well deserved,” said Harper.
Nicole George the vice president of ASCAP’s Rhythm & Soul Music department said when it came to deciding who to honor this year, the choices were easy.
“We all know Diddy is a pioneer of hip hop music,” said George. “We couldn’t think of anyone better to give the award to. Mary Mary changed gospel music. They made gospel music mainstream. They have flown under the radar. It’s time for them to get recognized.”
Top awards were also given to the Songwriter of the Year (Ludacris, Matthew “Boi-1da” Samuels and Noah “40” Shebib), Publisher of the Year (EMI Music Publishing for the 17th year in a row), Top R&B/Hip-Hop Song (“Un-Thinkable (I’m Ready)” written by Kerry “Krucial” Brothers, Alicia Keys and Noah “40” Shebib), Top Rap Song (“Nothin On You” written by Philip Lawrence, Ari Levine and Bruno Mars) and Top Gospel Song (“They That Wait” written by Ericka R. Warren).
Ludacris was not in attendance, however, he did send his thanks via a video.
“I’m just getting started,” he said. “The best is yet to come.”
Rapper Drake made a surprise appearance to honor Shebib and Boi-1da with their Songwriter of the Year award. Drake, who said he “wanted to be a rapper more than anything in the world,” credited the songwriters with helping to make his career a success.
Songwriter/singer Andrea Martin, who was also honored, wowed the music industry insiders with her rendition of “It Kills Me,” a song she wrote with Leon Carr and Earl Shuman for singer Melanie Fiona.
“I was shocked when I heard I was getting an award,” said Martin. “I’ve never been honored before. It feels great. I’ve never been to the ASCAP awards before. A lot of people don’t know who I am, so this is a day and time for people to see the face behind the music.”
The evening also featured performances by Miguel who performed his new hit “Sure Thing” and rapper Pusha T.
Songwriter James Fortune was also honored for his work in gospel.
“I’m getting two gospel awards,” said Fortune, who won for ‘Encore’ and ‘I Believe’. “This is actually my sixth song winning an ASCAP. It never gets old. I’m really excited.”
Suzanne de Passe, who previously worked for Motown, but now heads her own television and film company, attended the festivities to support one of her artists, Derrelle ‘Lil Play’ Davidson, who was being honored for having written the hook for “My Chick Bad” by Ludacris featuring Nicki Minaj.
de Passe said it was appropriate for the awards show to happen during Black Music Month.
“I believe every month is Black Music Month because we’re not seasonal, we’re perennial,” said de Passe of de Passe Jones Entertainment. “The music that our artists and producers and writers create is not subjected to one month. I’m very glad to celebrate it during the month of June. Our creativity, our excellence, it’s not just all about June.”
Summing up the evening’s festivities, Grammy President Neil Portnow said, “It all starts with a song.”
ASCAP is the first and leading U.S. Performing Rights Organization (PRO) representing the world’s largest repertory totaling over 8.5 million copyrighted musical works of every style and genre from more than 410,000 songwriter, composer and music publisher members.
For more information on ASCAP: www.ascap.com