Multiple-award-winning singer/songwriter and actress Brandy received the BMI President’s Award in recognition of her impact on the entertainment industry and her timeless hits, which have secured her place in R&B history.
Hosted by BMI President & CEO Mike O’Neill and BMI Vice President, Creative, Atlanta, Catherine Brewton, the ceremony kicked off with a moving tribute video in honor of the late rapper and activist Nipsey Hussle to celebrate his musical legacy and Atlanta-based rapper Gunna followed with a medley of his biggest hits, ending with his smash “Drip Too Hard” featuring Lil Baby, who joined him on stage for the performance.
The evening also featured a series of special tributes to Brandy, which began with contemporary R&B singer/songwriter Jade Novah performing a beautiful rendition of “Talk About Our Love.” The tributes continued with Samoht singing a stripped-down version of “Brokenhearted,” followed by gospel singer Kierra Sheard’s sultry performance of two of Brandy’s power ballads, “Have You Ever” and “He Is.” Eric Bellinger rounded out the tributes with “Baby” and “Nothing” which had the audience singing along.
Brandy’s brother Ray J also took to the stage and serenaded his sister with “Best Friend” before she was presented with the BMI President’s Award. Brandy accepted the accoladed with an impromptu performance, encouraged by the audience, of “I Wanna Be Down,” before singing her iconic hit “Almost Doesn’t Count.”
The event also honored the top producers and songwriters of the previous year’s 35 best-performing R&B/hip-hop songs in the U.S. from BMI’s repertoire of more than 14 million musical works. Wheezy Beatz tied for Producer of the Year with Tay Keith. Keith also received the coveted Songwriter of the Year award, an honor he shared with Post Malone, marking his second tie for the evening. Song of the Year went to “God’s Plan” by Yung Exclusive and Marciano and Sony/ATV was named Publisher of the Year for having 18 of the most performed songs of the year including “Sicko Mode,” “I Like It” and “In My Feelings.”
BMI represents songwriters, composers, and music publishers and negotiates music license agreements and distributes the fees it generates as royalties to its affiliated writers and publishers when their songs are performed in public.
By Samantha Ofole-Prince/Photos by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for BMI