40th Anniversary: The 2010 Yearbook

40th Anniversary: The 2010 Yearbook

Looking back, 2010 has been a powerful year, filled with tragic deaths and joyful births, messy divorces and new love, natural disasters and selfless acts of heroism. Before we can start a new year, we must look back and review all that has moved us in 2010 — like the always-inspiring First Lady Michele Obama, voice of a country, proud wife and loving mother. In honor of the 40th anniversary of ESSENCE, we take a look back at the highs and lows of the year…

Best Example of Black Love: The First Couple

No one can deny the impact of the First Couple on the African-American family. Every time Barack and Michelle Obama are photographed holding hands or sharing an affectionate kiss they strengthen our belief in Black love. He adores her to no end and she supports him with all her heart. Makes us all warm inside…

Most Powerful Family: Will, Jada & Smith Family

It used to be that Will and Jada were the superstars, but these days the proud father and mother step back and allow their talented offspring to grab some of the limelight. The Smith family are now one of Hollywood’s most influential entertainment dynasties. This year Willow and Jaden paved their own ways – she with a #1 single “Whip My Hair” and a record deal and he with the #1 film, “Karate Kid” – making mom and dad proud indeed.

Most Powerful Couple: Beyonce and Jay-Z

Hip-hop’s royal couple earned a reported $122 million last year, placing them at the top of Forbes’ list of top-earning couples. We’ve loved watching these two workaholics not only make some of the hottest songs and therefore pushing pop culture forward, but keep their love going strong.

Cutest Couple: Monica & Shannon Brown

A few R&B princesses put a ring on it this year, but no couple seems more sincere about walking down the aisle than Monica and her NBA boo Shannon Brown. The couple got engaged in October, and has been celebrating their love ever since. Look at her smile!

Most Missed Couple: Serena Williams and Common

We’re all hoping that Serena Williams and Common are still dating on the DL. They were so cute together and we were happy to see a conscious Hollywood man in love with a bold and beautiful Black woman with real curves. They cited conflicts in their schedules as the reason for their split. Come back Serena and Common! We miss you…

Most Talked-About Pair: Alicia Keys & Swizz Beatz

In 2010, Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz got engaged, were married in a secret French villa, and gave birth to a beautiful boy, named Egypt. Every step of the way, the public had something to say about their relationship, whether it was commenting on Beatz’ marital status or speculating on Keys’ hidden baby bump. In the end, the couple makes a perfect melody and we’re happy for them.

Biggest Breakup: Eva Marcille & Lance Gross

Everyone thought former “America’s Next Top Model” winner Eva Marcille and actor Lance Gross were “the” hot couple. In the year leading up to their highly publicized breakup, they were photographed on every red carpet, holding hands and exchanging kisses. Then, on March 25, just months before their scheduled summer wedding, they called it quits. Single men and women across the world rejoice.

Messiest Divorce: Dwyane & Siohvaughn Wade

It seemed like NBA superstar Dwyane Wade spent more time battling his ex-wife Siohvaughn in the court room this year than he did on the basketball court. The divorce battle-which ended on June 25-escalated when Siohvaughn sued Dwyane’s long-term boo, Gabrielle Union, claiming that Union caused her sons emotional distress when she got frisky with Dwyane in front of the boys.

Most Expensive Divorce: Tiger Woods & Elin

Since January it’s been downhill for Tiger Woods. He teed off the year with a major sex scandal that ended his marriage and left Elin, his ex-wife, $100 million dollars richer. The ex-couple share two kids together, Sam Alexis, 3, and Charlie Axel, 1. Let’s hope 2011 is a better year for Tiger.

Most Watched Baby Bump: Mariah Carey

The world has been on Mariah Carey bump-watch since summer, so much so that her hubby Nick Cannon had to tell the media to stop trying to get into his wife’s business. The couple finally confirmed that they were expecting on the “Today” show on October 28. We imagine that this child will enter the world with a Swarovski crystal-bedazzled onesie on and blinged-out butterflies in his or her hair.

Best Comeback (Female): Sade

This year we were more than happy to hear Sade’s smooth vocals back on our radios. The Grammy-winning singer came back with a vengeance, selling over 600,000 copies of the album, “Soldier of Love,” in the first week. We can never get enough of those syrupy sweet vocals…

Best Comeback (Male): El DeBarge

After years away from the spotlight El DeBarge came back a better man, and singer. DeBarge’s surprise performance at the 2010 BET Awards had everyone adjusting their television sets. And that voice? Still so sexy after all these years!

Most Talked About (Female): NeNe Leakes

We’ve been glued to all things NeNe Leakes ever since this Southern belle debuted on the “Real Housewives of Atlanta” in 2008. This year Leakes’ troubled marriage made headlines even when her reality show wasn’t on, certifying her as a tabloid celebrity and newsmaker.

Most Talked About (Male): Kanye West

Intentional or unintentional, Kanye West has been in the news all year long. If he wasn’t targeted for his wild comments, fashion choices, insanely awkward interviews, super long videos featuring supermodels dressed like birds, or his random purchase of 10 Fatburger restaurants, we wouldn’t have anything to discuss around the water cooler this year. Thanks Kanye for the memories!

Most Generous Celeb: Oprah Winfrey

On the last season of her show, Oprah not only donated millions to public schools, she also gifted her audience with brand new cars and an all-expense paid trip to Australia. And let’s not forget her school in South Africa. As the saying goes: “What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal.” And Oprah’s legacy will surely live forever.

Best Celeb Charity (Female): Alicia Keys’ Keep A Child Alive

When she wasn’t selling records (or getting married) Alicia Keys was dedicated to her Keep a Child Alive charity, which has raised funds for the care and support of people affected by HIV/AIDS in Africa. Recently Keys and her celeb friends raised $1 million by becoming “digitally dead” on World AIDS Day.

Best Celeb Charity (Male): Wyclef’s Yele Organization

In January, Haiti suffered a major earthquake that left thousands dead and millions homeless. Haitian star, Wyclef Jean joined in the fight early and used his Yele organization to raise over a million dollars for Haiti relief. With the help of Yele and numerous other organizations, Haitians have started the process of rebuilding their damaged country.

Best Actress: Kimberly Elise in “For Colored Girls”

Elise’s portrayal of Crystal, a battered woman enduring abuse from her war veteran boyfriend in “For Colored Girls” was so heart-wrenching she says she left her “heart on the floor” for the role. We can believe it. Bravo!

Biggest Loss (Female): Lena Horne

On May 10th, Lena Horne passed away. Known as one of the few to break the color barrier in early Hollywood, she was the first Black woman to sign a contract with a major film studio. Lena Horne will be missed but never forgotten.

Biggest Loss (Male): Teddy Pendergrass

Just a few months prior, we lost another great: Teddy Pendergrass. Known for his smooth tunes, he first made his mark in the music world as the front man of Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes. Though he’ll be missed, we’ll never stop playing the baby-making music he provided.

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The Immortal One: Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson passed away over a year ago, but we couldn’t stop talking about him this year. From the news updates on his estate, the Conrad Murray trial, Oprah recently interviewing his mother and children, Joe Jackson filing a wrongful death suit, and the sale of MJ paraphrenalia, the King of Pop surely could not rest in peace. Oh yeah, did we mention his new album, which drops on December 14th?

Most Fashionable Testimony: Naomi Campbell

This summer, Naomi Campbell took the stand in Charles Taylor’s war crimes trial and was asked if she received blood diamonds. Though it appeared the court couldn’t get a clear answer from her, Campbell revealed she was indeed given “dirty stones,” but had no clue about their current whereabouts.

Best Political Accomplishment: Health Care Reform

The 24/7 news media would like you to think that this was the year of the Tea Party — we’d have to disagree. Barack Obama accomplished what many thought was impossible in 2010. In March of this year he got Congress, and most of America, to get on board with a total reform of our nation’s health care — even though the majority of Republicans opposed it.

Most Disappointing Moment: Bishop Eddie Long’s Sex Scandal

In September, the Black church was rocked with sexual abuse allegations targeting Bishop Eddie Long. Four young men filed suits against the pastor claiming that he bribed them with lavish gifts in return for improper sexual relations. The case is still ongoing.

Most Stylish Man: Kanye West

From his outbursts to his music, Kanye West knows how to keep us talking. But one thing quietly overshadowed all his other antics this year: his wardrobe. The young college dropout has morphed into a sophisticated man about town, changing denims and letterman-jackets for trousers and tuxedo blazers. Bravo.

Best Post-Baby Body: Jennifer Hudson

We can’t say enough about how amazing Jennifer Hudson looks after a few months on Weight Watchers. The singer is a new woman and we’re so proud of her. Look at that waist! What do we love the most? How well she dressed her new physique: in simple, sexy chic pieces. Haute mama, indeed.

Red Carpet Rockstar: Rihanna

It wasn’t just the year of hit songs and new relationships for Rihanna, it was the year of rocking it on the red carpet. In 2010, the Bajan beauty brought her A-game every time she hit an event, giving us everything from skin tight all black numbers to feminine and flirty ones — like the one we see here at the European MTV Awards.

Best Stylist: June Ambrose

From the Jay-Z’s to the Sean Combs’ of the world, stylist to the stars June Ambrose has kept her plate fashionably full. But the stylist morphed into a celeb herself in 2010 when she gained attention for her signature style: beautiful turbans.

Best Style Upgrade: Janet Jackson

Ms. Janet never did look bad, but we can’t remember the last time she looked this chic, both on and off the red carpet. Is it the new hair cut? Is it the new love in her life? Whatever it is, it brought her old fashionista vibe back in 2010 – and we loved it!

Chicest Mom: Halle Berry

Mommyhood has never looked so good on Halle Berry, who upped the ante on maternal chic this year. She turned every play date and errand with Nahla into a catwalk show, turning out in fierce shades, sexy leather boots and the perfect jacket or sweater.

Best Post-Divorce Style: Garcelle Beauvais

They say looking good is the best revenge. Well, Garcelle Beauvais sure heard that. The newly minted ex-wife of Hollywood agent, Mike Nilon, glammed up every chance she got, rocking glam gowns on the red carpet and sexy denims and sweaters off of it. Somebody somewhere must be regretting their decision, but we won’t name names.

Best Shoe Game: Mary J. Blige

There are so many reasons for all of us to hail the queen. But in 2010 it was simply this: she put her best foot forward. From sexy simple round toe pumps, to sky high – thigh-high – stilettos she made us look every time.

Sexiest Red Lips: Zoe Saldana

In 2010, Zoe Saldana channeled Old Hollywood with her utterly show-stopping red lips. So stunning with her caramel skin.

Lushest Lashes: Keri Hilson

This year, Keri Hilson’s lashes were so long and lush that they seemed to hit the red carpet before she did!

Most Avant Garde: Shoniwa Shingai

With her neon lips, sculptural hairstyle and major eye makeup, Shoniwa Shingai is our generation’s Grace Jones.

Chicest Short Cut: Solange Knowles

Solange Knowles made the short natural chic again when she chopped off her locks earlier this year. Can you say "gamechanger?

Best Redhead: Rihanna

Love it or hate it, the crimson-coifed rock star made “cherry popsicle” the hottest hair hue of the year.

Prettiest Platinum: Eva Marcille

Platinum hair was all the rage in 2010, and Eva Marcille rocked it like no other. So pretty with her pixie cut!

Best Makeover: Kelly Rowland

When she cut her tresses into a chic asymmetric crop, Kelly Rowland went from “cute girl” to “style powerhouse” in one fell swoop.

Boldest Beauty: Nicki Minaj

With her fuschia lips, green eyeshadow, wild nails and multi-colored hair, Nicki Minaj had the boldest, most brazen look of the year. Love it or hate, you’ll be hearing a lot more about in 2011.