Nile Rodgers is honored as icon at BMI R&B/Hip-Hop Awards

Nile Rodgers is honored as icon at BMI R&B/Hip-Hop Awards
Recording artist Chuck D, left, and 2015 BMI Icon Award honoree Nile Rodgers perform onstage at the 2015 BMI R&B/Hip-Hop Awards. (Lester Cohen / Getty Images for BMI)
You can't really say your music has touched virtually every genre known to man, unless you’re Nile Rodgers.

From Madonna (“Like a Virgin”) to David Bowie (“Let’s Dance”), Diana Ross (“diana”) to Sister Sledge (“We Are Family”), Rodgers has worked with countless acts on their chart-topping music — most recently with Daft Punk, Sam Smith and Avicii. The disco-era success of his own group, CHIC, can still be felt today — its productions are consistently sampled in modern music.

For these reasons, Broadcast Music Inc., or BMI, honored Rodgers with its 2015 Icon Award during the organization’s R&B/Hip-Hop Awards at the Saban Theatre on Friday night.
“I really do music because I love it,” Rodgers said while on the red carpet. “Usually they honor you for success, but most records I make are flops. As happy as I am for people recognizing my hits, I would love it if one day somebody said we’re going to give you awards for flops, because the same passion I had for the hits, I had for the flops.
As the 2015 BMI Icon Award recipient, Rodgers joins honorees such as the Jacksons, James Brown, Isaac Hayes, Little Richard and Al Green.
On hand to pay their respects to the legend in music were former Icon Award recipient Snoop Dogg, rappers E-40 and B.o.B and songstress Deborah Cox, who performed a tribute.
“The soundtrack of my adolescence was ‘I’m Coming Out,’ ‘Upside Down’ with Diana Ross,” Cox said. “There’s just so much great music this man has produced and written. He’s been doing this for decades and continues to ensure soul music is felt by the world. I’m honored to honor him.”
Cox was joined on stage for the rousing musical performance down memory lane by “Empire” singer and Timbaland prodigy V. Bozeman, Kathy Sledge, Kelly Price and Cee Lo Green.
Also honored were the genres’ best songwriters and producers of the past year. Taking home the top awards as Songwriter and Producer of the Year, the latter of which he also won last year, was DJ Mustard, whose hits “2 On,” “Don’t Tell ‘Em,” “IDFWU” and others have cycled continuously.
John Legend’s “All of Me” earned him the Song of the Year prize, which he also won at the organization’s pop awards earlier this year.
Ahead of the event, The Times spoke with R&B artists on the red carpet about what makes their genre unique when compared with others. Check out their responses below:

Nile Rodgers

“Mainly because it’s done by black people. The music, for me, is a system of survival, and we used to get rewarded for being different. There would be a concert with Earth, Wind and Fire, Rufus, Cool and the Gang and CHIC, and we all had our own kind of R&B. That’s the compelling thing. You can talk about every facet of life in our community, and you can talk about it from the CHIC point of view or the Naughty By Nature point of view. It’s still relevant and resonates with people.”

Sevyn Streeter

“I just want there to be equality among R&B music. I don’t want, just because you’re a black person, for your music to only be played on urban stations. It should be played on every platform and every format. It depends on who’s singing it, where it gets shine or where it gets played when good music should just be heard.”

Deborah Cox

“There’s a different approach with soul music. There’s just an essence that isn’t really felt in pop music that soul music just has. It’s the gospel influence. It’s the rhythm. It’s the bass and the drum. It’s the whole feeling.”

V. Bozeman

“It would have to be the deliverance of the song, the person’s delivery who is singing the song. People can sing an R&B song, but it won’t do anything if they don’t deliver it right.”

Kathy Sledge

“The first word that comes to mind is ‘individuality.’ There’s a message. I don’t think that necessarily separates it, but I think it makes it just as strong.”

Kelly Price

“To have true R&B music, you have to have both elements: the rhythm and the blues. If it’s lacking one, you don’t have R&B. I think when you compare it to any other genre, just like they have their own unique qualities, R&B does too [which is often imitated]. Even though you hear the elements of R&B music in just about everything — you can go to some country artists now and hear that influence — there is only one R&B. It’s an amazing genre of music, and if it wasn’t viable, you wouldn’t have pretty much every other genre borrowing from it.”

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