Rhino Factoids: Prince Receives the Soul Train Heritage Award for Career Achievement
25 years ago today, Prince received the Soul Train Heritage Award for Career Achievement, which is particularly impressive when you consider just how much more he had yet to achieve in his career at the time he received it.
For you kids out there, here’s the deal: when it came to R&B music, there was no more important show than Soul Train, which started in 1971 and finally came to a halt in 2006. Indeed, it was so iconic that, despite no longer being on the air, its awards continue to be given out on an annual basis to honor the best in Black music and entertainment.
The Soul Train Awards first began in 1987, and the first handful of Heritage Award winners were Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones, and Smokey Robinson, so Prince was in decidedly good company when – following an introduction by actress (and future writer/director) Troy Beyer – he walked onstage to accept his award in 1992.
Actually, that’s true on another level as well: just prior to walking up to the microphone, Patti Labelle, Stephanie Mills, and Rosie Gaines had just performed a musical tribute to him. After allowing the audience to applaud, cheer, and hoot and holler for the better part of a minute, Prince offered no real preface before thanking the three performers, describing them as “God’s living proof that there are angels.”
From there, he thanked Don Cornelius, the legendary host of Soul Train, after which he thanked Beyer for introducing him, and then it was time for his short and sweet acceptance speech.
“You know sometimes I’m criticized for going too fast and trying to say too much, but I just want ya’ll to know that I try only to speak when spoken to. With your continued love and support, I will speak a little bit more. Thank you very much.”
Yep, that’s it. But come on, this is Prince we’re talking about. For him, that was downright epic.