August 26, 2002
PASADENA, Calif. — R&B singer Ashanti accepted entertainer of the year honours at Saturday’s Lady of Soul Awards despite complaints from some music fans that she didn’t deserve the title.
"It’s definitely an honour to just be recognized for such a prestigious award and I’m just so happy to be here with all my people who have been supporting me," she said during the ceremony hosted by the Soul Train music show at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium.
More than 28,000 signatures had been gathered on an Internet petition decrying the decision to give entertainer of the year to Ashanti. A person identified as Rommel Zamora posted the document at PetitionOnline.com.
Ashanti didn’t directly mention the Internet controversy during her brief speech. Patti LaBelle, who presented the award to Ashanti, said the 21-year-old newcomer was “extremely deserving of this wonderful recognition.”
"I got on the plane this morning to come here from Philadelphia because it’s worth it," LaBelle said. "We have to support our babies… . Her overall success of the past year exceeds those of all other female solo artists or groups."
Ashanti, who led all other performers with five nominations, also captured another award: best new solo artist.
She has sold more than 2.3 million copies of her self-titled debut album, released earlier this year. Among her hits are the singles Foolish and Happy, and she has become a sensation with numerous TV appearances and magazine pictorials.
Ashanti’s critics complain that she’s not talented enough to deserve the entertainer of the year honour, especially since it is named after the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin. Previous winners include Toni Braxton, Mariah Carey, TLC and Jill Scott.
"It is an insult to other entertainers who are more deserving of this award and Aretha Franklin. Ashanti simply lacks singing ability and stage presence," the petition states.
The late singer Aaliyah’s single Rock the Boat won two awards: best R&B solo single and song of the year. In the group category, Destiny’s Child won best R&B/soul album of the year for Survivor and best R&B single for Emotion.
The other winners were:
-R&B/soul album of the year, solo artist: Songs in A Minor, by Alicia Keys.
-R&B/soul or rap music video: One Minute Man, by Missy (Misdemeanor) Elliott.
-R&B/soul or rap new artist, for group, band or duo: Night & Day, by Isyss featuring Jadakiss.
-Gospel album: Believe, by Yolanda Adams.
-Lena Horne Award for outstanding career achievement: Angela Bassett.
Co-hosts for the eighth annual awards program were Arsenio Hall, Jill Scott and Shemar Moore. Winners were determined by an unspecified group of radio programmers, recording artists and music retail employees.