Janelle Monáe graced the 2023 BET Soul Train Awards hosted by Keke Palmer and was also honored with the inaugural Spirit of Soul Award.
Decked in a vibrant and colorful flower cloak, Monáe kicked off the show with her single The Age of Pleasure and then transitioned into her second number “Champagne Sh*t.” The artist included the audience in a magical moment by raising champagne glasses, toasting to life, future moments, and “to the people they can’t erase.”
Shortly after her energetic performance, Bobbi Lanea Tyler and Folayan Omi Kunerede of the rap group Flyana Boss presented Monáe with the Spirit of Soul Award. In her heartfelt acceptance speech, Monáe touched on family, systemic injustice, inspirations, and more.
“It’s nothing like being recognized by your own—by your own family—yall are family to me,” she expressed. “Thank you for keeping the soul alive. So many people have reinvented that word, and I am just so honored to have something like this for us that continues to evolve and showcase so many different forms of what soul can be.”
Citing wise words from her grandmother, the “Lipstick Lover” singer added, “’Let the spirit use you, baby. Let the spirit use you’—my grandmother would always say that. And I’m just so thankful for her spirit. Her spirit was one of humbleness. Her spirit was one of taking care of our family. She would always tell me, ‘Take care of your family, babe. Take care of your family.’ And that is what I’ve tried to do since the beginning of my career is take care of my family.”
“Y’all are my family. I wanted to shine a light on our community through my storytelling, through the art that I make, through movies, music, fashion; bringing it back around to us, to our Blackness, to our beauty,” Monáe added before acknowledging her icons such as Grace Jones, Nina Simone, Stevie Wonder, Earth, Wind, and Fire, and the late Prince.
Janelle Monáe also took the opportunity to shed light on “systemic injustice and abuses of power” and urged the viewers, “Let the spirit of love use you. Let the spirit of kindness use you. Let the spirit of empathy use you. Let the spirit of peace be your guide always and forever. And may our spirits guide us toward creating a safe and equitable place for our people.”
Witness Janelle Monaé’s captivating performance and inspiring speech in the video above.
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