By April Watts (Photos by Aaron J/Red Carpet Images)
The first annual Heart & Soul Awards ceremony took place last Saturday, at the Renaissance HarborPlace Hotel in downtown Baltimore. Celebrities and other dignitaries converged in celebration of women that are making tremendous strides in health and wellness.
“Soul Food” cast members Boris Kodjoe and Vanessa A. Williams were reunited as Master and Mistress of Ceremonies. Comedian Larry Lancaster warmed up the audience. Presenters included syndicated talk show hosts Michael Baisden and George Wilborn, celebrity wife and reality star Rebecca Crews (“The Family Crews”), and Heart & Soul cover model Sonya Lowery.
The honorees were first lady Michelle Obama, actress Raven Symone, MS advocate Kym Sellers, Dr. Lisa Newman, healthcare advocate Patricia McManus Ph.D., Ambassador Suzanne Johnson Cooke, Dr. Astrid Desrosiers, 75-year-old body builder Ernestine Shepherd, renowned publicist Terrie Williams, sustainable living advocate Majora Carter, executive Rosalind Brewer, and actress Nicole Ari Parker.
Maysa Leak (Jazz vocalist), Kindred The Family Soul (Soul duo), Doreen Vail (Gospel vocalist) and Eric Darius (Jazz saxophonist) each delivered powerhouse performances. Maysa doubled as music director for the ceremony.
Other stand out moments from the awards show: 1.) Rebecca Crews doing the robot for her husband Terry Crews, who was unable to attend; 2.) A powerful acceptance speech by Terrie Williams during which she encouraged the audience to “put down the mask”; and 3.) Boris Kodjoe getting choked up during a heartfelt introduction of his wife Nicole Ari Parker.