Janet Jackson Named BMI Icon; Receives Tribute From H.E.R., Normani, Teyana Taylor, More

The 2018 BMI R&B/Hip-Hop Awards, which recognizes the songwriters, producers and publishers of the year’s most-performed R&B/hip-hop songs, went down on Aug. 30 at Atlanta’s Woodruff Arts Center’s Symphony Hall. This year’s event honored Janet Jackson with the BMI Icon Award and featured a surprise appearance by Missy Elliott.

Song of the Year went to The Weeknd’s “I Feel It Coming,” written by Thomas Bangalter and Guy Manuel de Homem-Christo of Daft Punk. Metro Boomin was named Producer of Year for the third year in a row. He also took home Songwriter of the Year for his work on such songs as “Bad and Boujee,” “Bank Account” and “Mask Off.” Universal Music Publishing Group (UMPG) was awarded Publisher of the Year for the fourth consecutive year. UMPG had 15 of the most performed songs of the year.

Hosted by BMI President & CEO Mike O’Neill and BMI Vice President, Creative, Atlanta Catherine Brewton, with Lifestyle Specialist Kenny Burns as co-host, the evening included stellar performances by some of the hottest artists on the music scene. The night began with a special tribute to the late Aretha Franklin, who was part of the BMI family for 50 years, with Tamela Mann singing a rendition of “Precious Lord, Take My Hand” followed by “You’ve Got a Friend.” Keri Hilson and BMI’s Wardell Malloy introduced Atlanta rapper Derez De’shon as the 2018 BMI Social Star, presented by, before he took to the stage with an energetic performance of his hit “Hardaway.”

The tribute portion of the evening kicked off with Ciara introducing the 411 Dance Troupe, comprised of 50 kids from all over the South, as they performed a dance routine choreographed by Sean Bankhead, who has worked with Janet Jackson for many years. The performances continued with H.E.R., who performed a medley of “Black Cat” on guitar and sang “Any Time, Any Place.” Jussie Smollett from ‘Empire’ followed with “That’s the Way Love Goes,” Justine Skye sang a beautiful version of “Let’s Wait Awhile” and Normani had the audience grooving to “The Pleasure Principle.” Teyana Taylor closed out the tribute performances with a sultry rendition of Jackson’s hit, “I Get Lonely,” followed by Missy Elliot, who made a surprise appearance and spoke eloquently about her relationship with Jackson while quoting her lyrics throughout the touching speech.

As a BMI Icon, Jackson joins an elite group of songwriters who have received BMI’s Icon Award for their “unique and indelible influence on generations of music makers.” Previous recipients include Patti LaBelle, Nile Rodgers, Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, James Brown, Al Green, Snoop Dogg, among others.

Visit BMI to see full winners list here.

(Photos by Paras Griffin/Getty Images)


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