August 27, 2004
BMI Celebrates Urban Music at 2004 Awards with Top Songwriters, Producers and Publishers
Billboard Praises BMI R&B/Hip-Hop and Rap #1s
MIAMI, August 27, 2004 – Performing rights organization BMI saluted the premier R&B, rap and hip-hop songwriters, producers and publishers at its 2004 BMI Urban Awards, staged tonight at the Grand Ballroom at the Fontainebleau Hilton Resorts & Towers in Miami Beach.
R. Kelly won two of the evening’s top honors as writer of Song of the Year, “Ignition,” and as Urban Producer of the Year. Chad Hugo and Pharrell Williams were proclaimed Urban Songwriters of the Year. Universal Music Publishing was named Urban Publisher of the Year. A highlight of the gala was a tribute to soul music legend Al Green, who was named a BMI ICON for “his enduring influence on generations of music makers.”
The black-tie ceremony was hosted by BMI President and CEO Del Bryant. President Emeritus Frances W. Preston and Assistant Vice President of Writer/Publisher Relations Catherine Brewton assisted with the presentations to the BMI-affiliated writers and publishers of the 36 most performed songs in the urban music format.
“Ignition,” written by R. Kelly and published by R. Kelly Publishing, Inc., and Zomba Songs Inc., was named Urban Song of the Year for tallying the most US broadcast performances during the eligibility period. Included on Kelly’s multi-platinum Jive Records album, Chocolate Factory, “Ignition” was a Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop, Hot 100 and Top 40 charts smash.
Kelly collected his second major award of the night when he was crowned Producer of the Year. The BMI Top Urban Producers list also included Chad Hugo and Pharrell Williams of the Neptunes, Busta Rhymes, Irv Gotti, Jazze Pha, Lil’ Jon, Mannie Fresh, Nate Dogg, Kanyé West, Mario Winans, and D-Roc and Kaine of the Ying Yang Twins.
The BMI Urban Songwriter of the Year trophy went to the team of Chad Hugo and Pharrell Williams – also known as the Neptunes – who placed five titles on the most performed list. The songs earning them the prize were “Beautiful” (recorded by Snoop Dogg featuring Pharrell and Uncle Charlie Wilson), “Excuse Me Miss” (by Jay-Z), “Frontin’” (Pharrell featuring Jay-Z), “Luv U Better” (LL Cool J featuring Marc Dorsey) and “When the Last Time” (The Clipse).
This is the third Urban Songwriter of the Year award for Williams; he also won in 2001 and 2002. At last year’s ceremony, Williams took the BMI Urban Song of the Year honor for co-writing “Hot In Herre,” and the Neptunes were named Urban Producers of the Year.
Eight songwriters were double winners, contributing two songs each to the most-performed list: Jeff I. Bass, Mary Y. Brown, Eminem, Irv Gotti, Jazze Pha, R. Kelly, Lil’ Jon and Sham. Other writer/artists earning awards were Jennifer Lopez, Ja Rule, Busta Rhymes, Snoop Dogg, Anthony Hamilton, Wayne Wonder and Paul Simon.
Universal Music Publishing was named BMI Urban Publisher of the Year by accumulating the highest percentage of copyright ownership in award songs. David Renzer, Worldwide President of Universal Music Publishing Group, accepted on behalf of the publisher, which boasted 10 songs on the most-performed list (through its companies Irving Music, Songs of Universal, Inc., and Universal-Songs of PolyGram International, Inc.).
Other publishers with multiple award-winning songs were EMI-Blackwood Music, Inc. (9); Warner/Chappell Music Group (Unichappell Music, Inc./Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp.) (7); Waters of Nazareth Publishing (5); Careers-BMG Music Publishing, Inc./Zomba Songs Inc., Ensign Music Corporation and Noontime Tunes (3); and Bubba Gee Music, D J Irv Publishing, Eight Mile Style Music, Miss Mary’s Music, Nitty and Capone Publishing, R. Kelly Publishing, Inc. and White Rhino Music, Inc. (2).
The evening culminated in the ICON tribute to Al Green. Born in Forest City, Ark., Green blends southern gospel, Philadelphia soul, and a soaring, sensual voice to create music that has rocked our world for four decades. Ranked by many as the world’s greatest living soul artist, he became an international superstar through such self-written hits as “Let’s Stay Together,” “I’m Still in Love With You,” “Call Me,” “Love and Happiness,” “Here I Am (Come and Take Me)” and “Tired of Being Alone.” Green is in the midst of a remarkable comeback, thanks to his current Blue Note album, I Can’t Stop, which reunites him with producer/arranger/songwriting collaborator Willie Mitchell, who first signed Green to the Memphis-based Hi label and oversaw the singer’s seminal string of ’70s smashes.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer was honored during the dinner with performances by BMI artists Kanyé West, Pharrell, Sleepy Brown, Teena Marie and Lloyd. More information on the ICON presentation to Al Green can be found at bmi.com/urban.
In addition to the BMI performance awards, music trade magazine Billboard recognized the BMI-affiliated writers who had #1 songs on the R&B/Hip-Hop Singles and Rap Tracks charts during the past year; Kanyé West led with four songs, two of which topped both lists.
Founded in 1939, BMI is an American performing rights organization that represents more than 300,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers in all genres of music. Through its music performance and reciprocal agreements, it grants businesses and media access to its repertoire of approximately 4.5 million musical works from around the world. BMI annually honors the songwriters and music publishers of the most performed songs on American radio in the urban, pop, country, Latin and Christian genres.
# # #
Pictured at the 2004 BMI Urban Awards are BMI's Del Bryant and Frances Preston, Producer of the Year R. Kelly, BMI ICON honoree Al Green and BMI's Catherine Brewton
Universal Music Publishing's David Renzer, who accepted the Urban Publisher of Year Crystal, Mrs. West (Kanya's mom), classic soul artist Betty Wright, BMI Urban Award winners Anthony Hamilton and Kanya West, and rapper MC Hammer
BMI Urban Producer of the Year R. Kelly, who also wrote Song of the Year, "Ignition," performs at the 2004 BMI Urban Awards
R. Kelly performs at the 2004 BMI Urban Awards
Hip-hop violinist Miri Ben-Ari performs during the musical tribute to BMI ICON Al Green
BMI artist Kanya West (left) receives several Billboard #1 Awards at the 2004 BMI Urban Awards. Congratulating him are BMI's Catherine Brewton, Kanya's mother, Billboard's Leila Cobo and BMI's Del Bryant
Top Ten Producer Jazze Pha (center) accepts his BMI Urban Award from BMI's Catherine Brewton and Del Bryant
Songwriter of the Year Pharrell Williams, ICON Al Green, Top Ten Producer Kanya West, soul singer John Legend, Top Ten Producer Mario Winans
BMI Top Ten Producer Manny Fresh and his partner Baby are gathered with friends at the BMI Urban Awards.
BMI Award-winning artists Busta Rhymes and Anthony Hamilton show off their BMI Urban Award medallions
Top Ten Producer Lil' Jon, Songwriter of the Year Pharrell Williams, songwriter/producer Dallas Austin, Top Ten Producer Mario Winans, and Songwriter of the Year Chad Hugo gather at the 2004 BMI Urban Awards