Erykah Badu, Estelle, Iman, and Pam Grier were among the guests of honor who were saluted last night at VH1 Soul’s third annual Black Girls Rock! Awards. (Full disclosure: I was on the host committee for the event.) Actress Regina King held court as the mistress of ceremonies, which took place at Lincoln Center’s Stanley H. Kaplan penthouse in Manhattan, followed by an after-party at the Hudson Hotel. Highlights included performances by ex-Floetry singer Marsha Ambrosius, who told me that her two-years-in-the-making solo debut CD will finally drop in April 2009, elusive soul brother Bilal, Tony-winning playwright Sarah Jones, and up-and-coming Universal Motown recording artist Suai.
Not to be outdone, surprise guest Faith Evans closed the show by delivering the night’s most talked-about performance. It all started when she patted herself on the back for being “an educated heifer” during her opening remarks. Then she accidentally dropped her microphone at Badu’s feet halfway through belting out her 1995 R&B classic “Soon as I Get Home.” Unruffled by the setback, Evans scooted over to the podium and continued singing from behind the lectern until the guy sitting next to Badu handed her the mic that fell to the floor. That’s when she paused to thank him and praised a very pregnant Badu, who’s expecting her third child in January, for being “a singing b—-” before finishing her song. It was one of those truly outrageous diva moments that are so bananas they’re almost brilliant.