On Sunday night, BET will air the 2021 Soul Train Awards celebrating 50 years of the iconic music dance show started by the late Don Cornelius. The ceremony was held in Harlem on November 20 at the iconic Apollo Theater where celebrities piled into the building to see Ashanti and Maxwell be honored with the Lady of Soul and Living Legend Awards and pay their respects to the legacy Cornelius created.
“Soul Train has meant darn near everything to me over the years,” El DeBarge told ESSENCE. “Thank God for Don Cornelius and his vision. Having DeBarge on Soul Train as many times as he did — because we didn’t have many videos out — back then, Don kept us visual. So, thank you Soul Train.“
The impact of Soul Train on younger artists was palpable on the carpet as well, particularly Leon Bridges, who will perform on Sunday’s show. “I definitely feel the weight of it,” he shared. “It’s a very surreal moment. I ask the question, what is my life, you know, the fact that I’m here right now. So it’s just a really beautiful moment to celebrate Black art.”
Having the celebration in the historic neighborhood of Harlem, which was once a mecca for Black artists, added to the electric energy of this year’s show, which has been held in Las Vegas for the past several years.
“It always feels good to be home,” Mack Wilds told us. There’s nothing like this city. The feel of it. The vibe of it, especially us being here at the Apollo theater. It just feels like the two super titans of Black culture are converging. It’s amazing.”
Check out all of our red carpet interviews in the video above. The 2021 Soul Train Awards airs Sunday, November 28th at 8/7c, only on BET.