Grammy Award-winning funk/pop band Kool & the Gang is the recipient of the prestigious Legend Award at the 2014 Soul Train Awards, airing at 8 p.m., Sunday on BET’s Centric.
Hosted by Wendy Williams, the annual awards show was recorded before a live audience at The Orleans Arena in Las Vegas on Nov. 7.
Kool & the Gang, originally known as the Jazziacs, was founded by electric bassist and Jersey City native Robert “Kool” Bell and his brother, horn player Ronald Bell in 1964, and achieved R&B success with jazz-influenced dance tunes such as “Jungle Boogie,” “Hollywood Swingin’” and “Rhyme Tyme People” and “Funky Stuff,” all recorded with the group singing in unison over funky, yet complex instrumentals.
However, it was not until 1974, when the group added lead singer James “J.T.” Taylor and released the smash hit “Ladies Night” that the group “crossed over” to the lucrative pop market. A string of wildly popular hits followed, including “Celebration,” “Too Hot,” “Joanna” and “Cherish,” as well as “Open Sesame,” which was included in the “Saturday Night Fever” soundtrack, the recipient the 1978 Grammy Award for Album of the Year.
The Legend Award, which “recognizes individuals for their outstanding achievements and contribution to soul music,” is accepted by the group — Robert “Kool” Bell, Ronald Bell, George Brown and Dennis Thomas — after a star-studded musical tribute to their legacy and “continued relevancy.”
Following the band’s acceptance of the award, where they thanked their fans for the continued support throughout the years, Missy Elliott, Lil’ Kim and Da Brat take the stage to honor the band with their Kool & the Gang sampled track “Not Tonight,” which also included a video homage to the late Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes for her verse.
Other performers at this year’s awards show include Chris Brown, Tamar Braxton, MA$E, Tank, Nico & Vinz, Aloe Blacc, Kem, Lisa Stansfield, Alyson Cambridge, Liz Warfield, 3WB, Joe, Tinashe, Elle Varner, MC Lyte, Doug E. Fresh, Ledisi, Justine Skye and We Are Toonz.
The eclectic list of presenters includes Bill Bellamy, Chaka Khan, Boris Kodjoe, Wolf Blitzer, E-40, Vanilla Ice, Mack Wilds, David Foster, George Benson, Michelle Williams, Larenz Tate, Mario Van Peebles, Nicole Ari Parker, Raheem DeVaughn, Sommore, Vanessa Williams, Vawn Sims, Vivica A. Fox and “The Biggest Loser” trainer Dolvett Quince.