Janelle Monáe to Receive Spirit of Soul Award at 2023 Soul Train Awards

BET announced on Thursday (Nov. 16) that Janelle Monáe will receive the Spirit of Soul award at the 2023 Soul Train Awards, which premieres Sunday, Nov. 26 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on BET and BET Her. The show tweaked the name of its Lady of Soul award, which it has presented since 2015, “to honor the diversity and inclusivity of this year’s recipient.”


Monáe came out as non-binary in April 2022 on Red Table Talk saying, “I’m nonbinary, so I just don’t see myself as a woman, solely … I feel like god is so much bigger than the ‘he’ or the ‘she.’ And if I am from God, I am everything.”

“Janelle is one of the most talented forces in the entertainment industry, and an equally impactful change agent for Black LGBTQIA+ people to see themselves fully reflected across platforms,” Connie Orlando, evp specials, music programming & music strategy, said in a statement. “We are thrilled to honor Janelle’s talents on soul music’s biggest stage, Soul Train Awards. Janelle’s captivating sound is as multifaceted as Janelle’s many other talents within film, business, and social impact. BET is where Black Pride lives onscreen. We look forward to honoring this dynamic individual with the newly named ‘Spirit of Soul’ award as we continue to create inclusive spaces for diverse voices to be seen, heard, and celebrated.”

Previous recipients of the Lady of Soul award at the Soul Train Awards are Jill Scott (2015), Brandy (2016), SWV (2017), Faith Evans (2018), Yolanda Adams (2019), Moncia (2020), Ashanti (2021) and Xscape (2022).

BET Soul will dedicate a full hour to Monáe’s music videos on Friday Nov. 17 at 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. ET. Fans are advised to check local listings.

Keke Palmer, who has described herself as sexually fluid, will host the 2023 Soul Train Awards.  In February 2017, during an interview on The Wendy Williams Show, Palmer said, in part, “Love is defined by the individual, and what I feel today is not what I necessarily may feel five years from now. I don’t want to limit myself to one feeling or one idea of anything.”

Palmer is also set to perform on the show, along with BJ The Chicago Kid, Coco Jones, Dante Bowe, Fridayy, Muni Long and SWV. The show is taping in Los Angeles. Summer Walker, SZA and Usher are the leading nominees, with nine nods each.

Orlando will oversee the annual show and executive produce for BET with Jamal Noisette, executive producer, vp, specials & music programming. Jesse Collins, CEO of Jesse Collins Entertainment, will serve as executive producer along with Jesse Collins Entertainment’s Jeannae Rouzan–Clay and Dionne Harmon.

Monáe is nominated for two Grammy Awards this year – album of the year and best progressive R&B album for The Age of Pleasure. This is the artist’s second nod for album of the year. Monáe is a 10-time Grammy nominee, though the artist has yet to win. The awards will be presented on Feb. 4, 2024 at Arena in Los Angeles.

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