Dougie Fresh, Big Daddy Kane, Kurtis Blow and other veteran rappers rehearse Heavy D tribute

*The live taping of the 2011 Soul Train Music Awards was held on November 17 at the Fox Theater in Atlanta, GA.

Opening to a fashionably chic and savvy audience, this show left nothing to be desired. Hosted by the comedic Cedric the Entertainer, the show combined the elements of comedy, sophistication, style, and of course, soul.

In typical Soul Train awards show fashion, the night was filled with incredible performances, and nominee/award presentations by various presenters ranging from the genres of reality show celebs (Shaunie O’Neal, Tami Roman, NeNe Leakes, Cynthia Bailey) to singers (Keri Hilson, The Braxtons) to actors (Omari Hardwick, Demetria McKinney, Keshia Knight Pulliam, Malcolm-Jamal Warner). From CNN’s Wolf Blitzer to Valerie Simpson, unexpected appearances abounded throughout the evening.

Gladys Knight was honored with a special award presented to her by Natalie Cole

Old-school is the only term which can describe the exuberant opening act by The Original 7ven (formerly The Time) with audience members dancing in the aisles while spelling out C-O-O-L.

The first honoree of the night was the fabulous, incomparable and soulful Gladys Knight who was honored in medley by artists such as Toni Braxton, Chrisette Michele, and Marsha Ambrosius, topped off by the award being presented to her by the classy, illustrious Natalie Cole.

Amongst the performances of the evening, included were Anthony Hamilton, Robin Thicke, Miguel, Lloyd, Cee-Lo with Melanie Fiona, Common with Marsha Ambrosius, and for the teeners and tweeners, the uber-loveable Mindless Behavior.

Cedric The Entertainer hosted the show and kept the crowd well entertained

Between sets, audience members remained thoroughly entertained by the antics of Cedric the Entertainer being the long lost bro of Don Cornelius or playing the familiar scrabble board of Soul Train’s past, and snippets of old Soul Train shows showing on the stage monitors.

A special tribute to our beloved late brother Heavy D was carried out by some of hip-hop’s greatest pioneers such as Doug E. Fresh, Naughty by Nature, Goodie Mob, Big Daddy Kane, and Kurtis Blow all sharing the stage.

Wrapping up the show was the presentation of the award for the second honoree of the night, the timeless R&B/soul group Earth, Wind and Fire.  Showing the audience that their ‘shining star’  has yet to fade by ‘grooving’ with the audience, they closed out a wonderfully successful Soul Train Music Awards show on a high note!

Earth Wind & Fire accept their award

Be sure to watch The 2011 Soul Train Awards simulcast on BET and Centric on Sunday, Nov 27 at 9pm E/P, 8pm Central.

Madge Evans ([email protected]) covers entertainment and social events in the Atlanta area for EURweb.