June 24, 2004





Over 600 music and entertainment luminaries gathered at the 17th Annual ASCAP Rhythm and Soul Music Awards tonight at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles to celebrate the songwriters behind some of today's most popular music as awards were presented to songwriters and publishers of top R&B/Hip-Hop, Rap and Reggae music in the ASCAP repertory. ASCAP President and Chairman and three-time Academy Award-winning lyricist Marilyn Bergman hosted the evening's festivities, which also saluted Black Music Month, and the 90th anniversary of the founding of America's first and largest Performing Rights Organization.

Among the honorees and notables attending the elegantly attired celebration were 50 Cent, Rick James, Jay-Z, Johnta Austin, Ivan Barias, Beyoncé, Jayson "Koko" Bridges, Chingy, Bootsey Collins, Rah Digga, DJ Quik, Jermaine Dupri, Michael Elizondo, Jr., Free of BET's 106th and Park, John "J-Praize" Freeman, Nona Gaye, Goapele, Jeffrey "Jo-Bo" Grigsby, Carvin Haggins, Andre Harris, Osten "Easy Moe Bee" Harvey, Jr., Lalah Hathaway, Founder and CEO of BET Robert Johnson, Sean Paul Joseph, Just Blaze, Joe Kent, Killer Mike, Kindred the Family Soul, Kyjuan of the St. Lunatics, Ronald LaPread, Sr., Kenny Lattimore, Alonzo Lee, Lil' Fizz, Lil' Mo, Lyfe, Darryl "DMC" McDaniels of RUN DMC, Harvey Mason, Jr., Mr. Cheeks, Musiq, Actress Elise Neal, L.A. Reid, Rick Rock, Frank Romano, Raphael Saadiq, Chink Santana, The Game, Damon Thomas, Truth, Kanye West, James "Big Jim" Wright, and many more.

To recognize Black Music Month, and in support of Luther Vandross' continuing recovery, the evening included a special performance by Lalah Hathaway, daughter of legendary soul great Donny Hathaway, who performed the song "Forever, for Always, for Love." This was Ms. Hathaway's first public performance of the song, which is featured on the upcoming Luther Vandross tribute album, Forever, for Always, for Luther. ASCAP's 90th anniversary was also celebrated with a special screening of a commemorative video tracing the birth of ASCAP through to the new millennium.

50 Cent picked up the enviable Songwriter of the Year award for his five award-winning songs "21 Questions" featuring Nate Dog, "In Da Club," "Magic Stick" featuring Lil' Kim, "P.I.M.P.," and "Wanksta." These top hip-hop songs contributed to the immense success of 50 Cent's debut album, Get Rich or Die Tryin', which debuted at No. 1 simultaneously on Billboard's Top 200 and R&B/Hip-Hop album charts. The infectious "In Da Club" was one of the most played singles in the history of radio in February 2003 and also earned 50 Cent this year's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Song and Top Rap Song honors. Recently recognized with the ASCAP Pop Songwriter of the Year, 50 Cent is a major force in the world of popular music.

Among the special highlights of the evening were the presentations of the ASCAP Golden Note Award to Jay-Z, and the ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Heritage Award to Rick James.

Founder and CEO of BET Robert Johnson joined ASCAP President and Chairman of the Board Marilyn Bergman and ASCAP CEO John LoFrumento on stage to co-present the ASCAP Golden Note Award to Jay-Z. This award is given to composers and songwriters who have achieved extraordinary milestones, and was presented to Jay-Z in recognition of his groundbreaking achievements as a songwriter and artist who has aided in redefining the voice and words of hip-hop and earned him an enduring place in American popular music worldwide. Since the release of his classic debut, Reasonable Doubt in 1996, Jay-Z has released at least one million-selling album a year, including the Grammy award-winning Vol. 2… Hard Knock Life, and has created some of the most classic rap singles in history.

In receiving The ASCAP Golden Note Award, one of the most prestigious honors that the Society bestows on its members, Jay-Z joins a select group of songwriters and composers that includes Garth Brooks, Sean "P.Diddy" Combs, José Feliciano, Alan Jackson, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Elton John, Quincy Jones, Tom Petty, Andre Previn, and Stevie Wonder.

The ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Heritage Award is given to members who have had a major impact on the legacy of Rhythm and Soul music, and was presented to Rick James for his outstanding achievements as a songwriter, artist and producer whose innovative style continues to influence and inspire the world of music. Widely regarded as one of the most visionary and innovative artists in American music, Rick James is credited with creating the &"punk-funk&" style and establishing himself as the ultimate funk hit-maker with such songs as &"Super Freak&", &"Mary Jane&", and &"Give It To Me Baby&" to name a few.

Rick James joins an elite group of legendary artists who have received the coveted ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Heritage Award. Past recipients include Peabo Bryson, Earth, Wind and Fire, and Chaka Khan.

A special musical tribute to Rick James included live performances by Lyfe, whose highly-anticipated debut album, Lyfe 268-192, will be released this summer on Sony Urban Music; Shari Watson, formerly known as Truth Hurts, and now Truth, who recently released her second album Ready Now on Raphael Saadiq's indie label, Pookie Entertainment, and Kindred the Family Soul, a vocal duo consisting of husband and wife singer/songwriters Fatin Dantzler and Aja Graydon, whose debut album Surrender to Love was released last year on Hidden Beach Recordings.

Publisher of the Year honors were presented by ASCAP CEO John LoFrumento to EMI Music Publishing/EMI Jobete Music Publishing for their 20 award-winning songs: "Baby Boy," "Beautiful," "Can't Let You Go," "Crazy In Love," "Excuse Me Miss," "Fabulous," "Frontin'," "Get Busy," "Gossip Folks," "How You Gonna Act Like That," "I Can," "I Know What You Want," "I Wish I Wasn't," "Into You," "P.I.M.P.," "Rain On Me," "Right Thurr (Remix)," "Stand Up," "The Jump Off," "Wanksta," and for EMI/Jobete's "Into You.&" This marks the eleventh year that EMI has been named ASCAP's Rhythm & Soul Publisher of the Year.

Top Soundtrack Song of the Year honors went to "Shake Ya Tailfeather," from Bad Boys II, written by Jayson "Koko" Bridges, Murphy Lee, Nelly and Varick "Smitty" Smith and published by BMG Songs, Inc., Bubo Music, D2 Pro Publishing, Hitco South, Jackie Frost Music, Koko's Basement, New Columbia Pictures Music, Inc., That's Whats Up Publishing, Universal Music Publishing Group, and Young Dude Publishing.

Sean Paul was named ASCAP Reggae Artist of the Year, and was honored for his award-winning songs "Baby Boy" and "Get Busy."

For a complete list of winners, go to http://www.ascap.com/eventsawards/awards/rsawards/2004/completewinners.html.

The music of ASCAP members has been the dominant force on the Billboard Hot 100 and Hot 200 charts in 2003 occupying 88% of Hot Rap Singles, 81% of Hot R&B Airplay and 81% of Hot 100 Airplay. ASCAP members continue to sweep the top categories at major awards shows including 80% of Soul Train Awards, 69% of Vibe Awards, and they dominated the R&B and Hip-Hop categories at this year's Grammy Awards.

2004 marks the 90th anniversary of the founding of ASCAP. As the world's largest Performing Rights Organization, ASCAP has over 180,000 composer, lyricist and music publisher members representing all genres of music. ASCAP is committed to protecting the rights of its members by licensing and collecting royalties for the public performance of their copyrighted works, and then distributing these fees to the Society's members based on performances. ASCAP's Board of Directors is made up solely of writers and publishers, elected by the membership every two years.