By Dennis J. Freeman
There was the party that took place at the 2011 BET Awards. Then there was the party that took place as the show winded down on Chris Brown’s big night and Kelly Rowland’s breakout performance.
When the show was over many of the stars made their way down to Interscope Geffen A&M Records’ fifth year hosting the “Crème of the Crop” post BET awards dinner celebration at the famous Mr. Chow Restaurant in Beverly Hills.
An impressive list of red carpet steppers included Toni Braxton and the Braxton clan, Ne-Yo, Snoop Dogg, Tank, The Game, actress Elise Neal, Keri Hilson, Patti LaBelle and the red-hot Rowland.
With Interscope Geffen A&M Records being the top record label in the country and home to music icons Eminem, Dr. Dre, Mary J. Blige, 50 Cent , Lady Gaga, and The Black Eye Peas, the record label succeeded in bringing in some of the biggest names in the industry to its party.
While most of the talk on the red carpet centered on the actual BET Awards, some attendees discussed their success as artists and even talked about upcoming projects they’re stoked about. In any shape or form, everything was about the music.
Songbird Toni Braxton said she’s looking forward to getting back to putting out the kind of music that made her famous. A November release date for her latest album is possible, she said.
“I’m going old school,” Braxton said. “I’m going to go back. The bones are aching now. Next year is my twenty-year anniversary, so I’m excited because to be in this business as long as I have been in. So, it’s exciting to go out and see the all new acts and the young kids.”
R & B crooner Tank talked briefly about his meteoric rise in the music business. When Tank burst on the music scene more than a decade ago, rap and hip hop had firmly established itself as a force to be reckoned with in pop culture. While rap and hip hop has its impact decrease, Tank said the soulful type of music he sings isn’t going anywhere.
“God is good,” Tank said. “I’ve been in this thing as a solo artist 11 years. To still be able to it and mean something to it, it’s a blessing. I just work hard. I work hard and sleep whenever I can, but for the most part I don’t. I think that is what takes to really survive that long, plus having a little bit of talent.
“The people that still want to hear us are still buying it. For those that stayed dedicated to it-they’re reaping the benefits from it. Jill Scott, Musiq Soulchild and people like that, even myself, are still feeding off of good love music.”
Veteran musician and producer Lonnie Burrell, who has a hot new single out with Rowland called “Favor,” said the BET Awards is always a good place for artists like himself to be honored. Burrell, who has collaborated with Tank and the aforementioned Brown, nearly went into a different musical direction than what he’s doing now.
I never wanted to be a singer when I was a kid,” Burrell said. “I didn’t think it was cool. I wanted to be a drummer, so I started playing the drums. But singing was something I could never get away from. I started writing for a lot of different artists. Now it’s my turn.”