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The 19th Annual ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Music Awards

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By Lea Michelle Cash

When attendees started walking down the red carpet at the American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers (ASCAP) Awards, I didn't recognize anyone-except, Ciara, Jermaine JD Dupri, LL Cool J, Bill Withers, Mary Mary, Ricky Bell and Ralph Tresvant of New Edition.  Matter of fact, I was somewhat confused until the program started. 

Photo by Lea Michelle Cash : Bill Withers and family on the red carpet
The reason I didn't recognize many of the individuals is because they were the songwriters and publishers of the most performed ASCAP songs on the 2005 R & B/Hip-Hop and Rap charts.   In other words, these individuals were the ones who write the music and words to the songs.  They were the "behind the scenes" people who create magic with music and language.

As each honoree stepped on stage to receive their prestigious award, the band played their hit song or songs, and they were no longer an unfamiliar face, because each one of their hit songs I recognized. 

The show was held this year at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills and co-hosted by multi-platinum award-winning recording artist, Ciara, and ASCAP President and Chairman Marilyn Bergman.   On this evening they saluted the songs that have topped the R & B/Hip-Hop, Rap and Gospel charts in the past year.  So there were numerous winners in the award winning three categories with the Top R & B/Hip-Hop Song of the Year being, "Let Me Love You" sung by Mario, written by Kameron "Kam" Hoff and Scott Storch.  The Top Rap Song of the Year, "How We Do" sung by The Game featuring 50 Cent, written by 50 Cent, Dr. Dre, Mike Elizondo, and The Game.  The Top Gospel Song of the Year was " Heaven" sung by Mary Mary, written by Erica Campbell, Tina Campbell, Joi Campbell and Warryn Campbell.  

A few of the many songs who received awards in the three categories were: 1,2 Step, sung by Ciara featuring Missy Elliott, written by Ciara and Missy Elliott.  Free Yourself, sung by Fantasia, written by Craig Xavier Brockman, Missy Elliott and Nisan Stewart.  My Boo, sung by Usher & Alicia Keys, written by Jermaine "JD" Dupri, Alicia Keys, Manuel Seal, Adonis Shropshire and Usher.  Shake It Off, sung by Mariah Carey, written by Johnta Austin and Jermaine "JD" Dupri and Candy Shop, sung by 50 Cent featuring Olivia, written by 50 Cent and Scott Storch.   

Photo by Lea Michelle Cash : LL Cool J on the red carpet
The Reggae Artist of the Year was given to Sean Paul.  The Ringtone of the Year Award was given to 50 Cent for Candy Shop.   The Soundtrack of the Year Award was given to 1 Thing, from the movie Hitch, sung by Amerie, written by Amerie Rogers and Stanley Walden.  The Songwriter of the Year Award was a tie (this year): 50 Cent for Candy Shop, Disco Inferno, Hate it or Love it, How We Do and Just a Lil Bit.  And Jermaine "DJ" Dupri for Let Me Hold You, Like You, My Boo, Shake It Off, and We Belong Together.   EMI Music Publishing received the Publisher of the Year Award for having published 16 award-winning songs this year.  

50 Cent's determination and innate ability to pair smart, clever rhymes and undeniably hot beats have solidified his standing as one of the most celebrated acts in hip-hop and successful contemporary songwriters-artists.  Jermaine "JD" Dupri, who continues to add to his long list of accomplishments, celebrates being a songwriter and producer which recently made him one of the few producers in music history to garner four positions in the Top 10 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart at one time.

Special honors went to LL Cool J and Bill Withers.  LL received the ASCAP Golden Mike Award for his innovative and enduring contributions to Hip-Hop music, both as a songwriter and performing artist, earning him an extraordinary place in American popular music worldwide.  And Withers received the ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Heritage Award for his outstanding achievement as a songwriter and artist whose beautiful and heartfelt songs have enriched and inspired generations. 

"(This) is an event I look forward to every year," said Jermaine Dupri.   "I remember when this award's presentation started out in a little dark room in New York, it was too hot and we couldn't hardly breathe in that little tiny room.  But look at us now!  I hope ASCAP keeps giving us awards for many years to come.  I plan to be on this stage next year, and every year if I can."

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