BMI executives were on hand at the Rhythm and Blues Foundation's 14th Annual Pioneer Awards, held recently in the Foundation's new hometown of Philadelphia. Among the honorees were such legendary BMI artists as the late Otis Redding (Legacy Award), Thom Bell, Barbara Mason, the DelFonics and Frankie Beverly. Chubby Checker, Bettye LaVette and Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Berry Gordy, Jr. were also feted.
|Pictured after the ceremony are R&B Foundation Chairman Kendall Minter and his guest, BMI's Del Bryant, legendary musician Lloyd Price and R&B Foundation board member Judy Tint.
Two-time Grammy winner Thom Bell, credited as one of the architects of the "Philly Soul" sound, adds this prestigious award to a trophy collection that includes his recent induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
|Leon Huff, Kenny Gamble, Eddie Holland and Brian Holland gather on stage to reminisce about Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Berry Gordy, Jr.
The R&B Foundation, which honors the genre's greats and seeks to preserve its legacy, revived its Pioneer Awards gala after a three-year hiatus due to money troubles. The organization now has the financial support of both the city of Philadelphia and the state of Pennsylvania under a plan inspired by legendary BMI producer/songwriter Kenny Gamble, who was in attendance with his "Sound of Philadelphia" writing partner Leon Huff to present the award to Motown Records founder Berry Gordy.
|Songwriter Eddie Holland, BMI's Charlie Feldman and Del Bryant, Eddie's daughter and songwriter Brian Holland share a table at a local Philly diner after the gala.
Singers Patti LaBelle and Smokey Robinson hosted the event at the Park Hyatt at the Bellevue. In addition to Gamble and Huff, other presenters included BMI Icons Brian and Eddie Holland of Motown songwriting trio Holland-Dozier-Holland, Ashford & Simpson, Bill Cosby, Jerry Butler, Boyz II Men, Bonnie Raitt and Jill Scott.
The Rhythm and Blues Foundation is an independent, non-profit service organization whose mission is to foster public recognition and appreciation of rhythm & blues music and the artists who made significant contributions to the birth and development of r&b music, particularly from the 1940s through the 1970s. A year-round endeavor, the R&B Foundation produces the popular Pioneer Awards and administers significant medical and financial assistance endowments to those in need. Officially established in 1988, the Foundation was housed in Washington, D.C. and New York City until the recent move to Philadelphia in April of 2005.