There were only good vibes Friday night during the 10th annual Soul Train Music Awards ceremony at the Shrine Auditorium, where the big winners were TLC and soulful newcomer D'Angelo, who each took home awards in three categories.
D'Angelo (whose full name is Michael D'Angelo Archer) won best new artist along with awards for his acclaimed debut album, "Brown Sugar," and the single of the same name. Dressed in pinstripes, the soft-spoken singer said backstage that he was honored to be chosen by the "Soul Train" television show he grew up watching every Saturday back home in Richmond, Va.
"It was beautiful," he said after the ceremony. "It means a lot to be part of the 'Soul Train' history and be up here with all my peers."
The all-female hip-hop trio TLC picked up awards for best R&B/soul album by a group, band or duo ("CrazySexyCool") as well as best video and single (both for "Waterfalls").
While the awards ceremony had none of the lip-syncing performances of the weekly "Soul Train" show, the music performed by the likes of the Notorious B.I.G. (whose "One More Chance" won for best song) and Mary J. Blige (whose "My Life" won for best R&B/soul album by a solo female) came off no worse than on most television awards shows: i.e., slick, but distant.
The best rap album category was won by 2Pac (a.k.a. Tupac Shakur) for his "Me Against the World," beating out Coolio's acclaimed "Gangsta's Paradise" in a field crowded with worthy contenders.
Pop-R&B veteran Patti LaBelle was given the Soul Train Heritage Award, which has previously been given to such major acts as Stevie Wonder, Prince, Michael Jackson, Diana Ross and Quincy Jones, among others.
"I grew up listening to Patti LaBelle," said singer Tamia, who joined Peabo Bryson and others to sing a tribute to LaBelle. "To sing for her and have her looking at me, I almost passed out."
The Soul Train Awards, the most prestigious R&B awards, are based on a survey of 3,000 radio programmers and record retailers.