Mariah Carey was awarded the BMI Icon accolade during the publishing association’s annual Urban Awards last night at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills. The chart-topping songbird accepted the honor following a DJ set by producer and longtime collaborator Jermaine Dupri and stellar cover performances by Joe (“We Belong Together”), crooner Eric Benet (“One Sweet Day”), gospel behemoth Karen Clark Sheard (“Anytime You Need a Friend”) and American Idol’s Fantasia who, after kicking off her heels, belted out the fan-favorite “Hero.”
“I don’t know if I’m coming or going but I’m happy to be here,” Carey said, basking in her moment in front of an audience of songwriters, producers and celebrities – T-Pain, Mac Miller, Big Sean, manager Randy Jackson and show co-host Ray-J among others. The consummate diva (who arrived with a large entourage just in time to accept her own award) came outfitted in a snug black gown and glistening platinum cuffs with a mass of voluminous curls. She was both humble and gracious during her acceptance but maintained her signature sassy beat. “Go wide! I’m trying to get a better pose,” Mariah instructed the photographers at one point as she shimmied across the stage with husband Nick Cannon in tow. “It’s a pleasure to be here, being a supportive husband,” Cannon gushed on the red carpet to reporters. “My wife is an icon and at the same time, is the best wife in the world.” With this new nod from BMI, Mariah joins the ranks of other Icons like Isaac Hayes, Al Green, Willie Nelson and James Brown.
Drake and Lil Wayne shared the Songwriter of the Year trophy, with seven songs to each of their names that ranked among the year’s most-performed, from “Headlines” and “Aston Martin Music” to “She Will.” Cash Money capo Birdman accepted the award on behalf of his label mates, who were noticeably absent from the ceremony. T-Minus, who swept with multiple trophies including Top Producer for his work on “HYFR” and “I’m On One,” wore an October’s Very Own (OVO) sweatshirt as an homage to the missing Canadian rapper. “It’s an honor. I think next year I’m going to top myself,” T-Minus predicted and shared with Rolling Stone that he’s hard at work on Drake’s next project in addition to spending time in the studio with Kendrick Lamar and Kelly Rowland. Young Money also fared well in the Song of the Year category with Nicki Minaj’s “Super Bass,” while producer Bangladesh took home an award for Lil Wayne’s infectious “6’7.” Still high off his win, Bangladesh said that the honor wasn’t something that he expected. “This is just a day to enjoy,” he mused.
The People’s Champ, Mac Miller, snagged the first-ever BMI Social Star Award based upon fan-generated ballots via Twitter given to the songwriter who has best leveraged social media over the past year. “I was just a kid putting music on the Internet and then my fans kind of went crazy. It wasn’t until my fans were so undeniable that people started focusing on who I was. I gotta thank my fans for everything,” Mac said to the press before the show.
Rapper Nas kicked off the festivities with a live medley that included “Daughters” and a heartfelt rendition of “Bye Baby” featuring Eddie Cole, the velvety-voiced nephew of the late Nat King Cole, while Future provided hip-hop presence with “Magic,” “Same Damn Time,” and “Turn On The Lights.”