4th Annual Black Girls Rock! Awards

Celebrities of all colors (and both sexes) braved the chill in New York City to celebrate the 4th Annual Black Girls Rock! Awards, held Saturday (Oct. 17) at The New York Times Center. Spearheaded by model-turned-DJ Beverly Bond (the awards show serves as Bond’s fundraiser for her non-profit youth empowerment mentoring organization, Black Girls Rock! Inc.), the night’s festivities celebrated the achievements of exceptional women of color.

Renowned poet and professor Dr. Sonia Sanchez (recipient of the Legend Award), DJ Spinderella (recipient of the Jazzy Joyce DJ Award), and actress Raven-Symoné (recipient of the Young, Gifted, and Black Award) were a few of the stellar females honored at the event hosted by actresses Tracee Ellis Ross and Regina King.

“I think it’s awesome,” Symoné said of her award. “I tell girls to take what they love and take it to the heights, and never take no for an answer.” Besides acceptance speeches, the audience was treated to the sounds of Universal Motown recording artist Melanie Fiona, who sang several selections from her debut, The Bridge, including “Monday Morning” and “It Kills Me.”

Alternative-soul artist Janelle Monáe, who received the Who Got Next Award, closed the show with a rousing performance of her hit, “Sincerely Jane.” During her well-delivered speech, she thanked her grandmother and the legendary James Brown for keeping her grounded: “I never defined my success on how famous I became, but by the art I’d leave behind.”

Other award recipients of the night included Mary J. Blige (Icon Award), Naomi Campbell (Fashionista Award), Anthony Hamilton (the only male honoree to earn a Soul Brother #1 Award), and Queen Latifah, who pledged to donate $25,000 to Bond’s organization.

VIPs received coveted gift bags including Beats by Dr. Dre headphones, AMBI Skincare products, one-year Crunch gym memberships, personalized Black Girls Rock! Converse sneakers, iTunes gift cards, and vouchers for Completely Bare spa treatments.

–Crystal “Crys Breezy” Williams