Some of the biggest names in entertainment hit the red carpet on Thursday at the 30th annual Image Awards hosted by the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People). The special anniversary show drew the likes of HARRY BELAFONTE, basketballer MICHAEL JORDAN, crooner GEORGE BENSON, and co- host MARIAH CAREY.
The NAACP Image Awards is the longest running awards show honouring the positive portrayals of African-Americans in film, television, literature and recording. This year’s theme was `30 Years of Celebrating – 90 Years of Courage’.
It was a big night for Fugee-gone-solo LAURYN HILL, who picked up three awards for Outstanding New Artist, Outstanding Female Artist, and Outstanding Album for `The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill’. With her debut solo record, the Fugees’ most vocal member has not only established herself as a creative force on her own, but has also broken new ground by successfully integrating rap, soul, reggae and R&B into her own sound.
Hill will feature prominently in the upcoming Grammy Awards, where she has ten nominations in different songwriting, performance and production categories, among them Best New Artists and album of the year. The news of the nominations came at the end of a year that saw Miseducation go triple platinum and top many year-end best-of lists in publications across the United States. Now she is embarking on a North American tour, starting in Detroit on 18th February, with a full band, a DJ and a series of surprises for her fans.
Jonathan Demme’s film `Beloved’ may have missed out in the Oscar nominations, but it did earn DANNY GLOVER a prize for Outstanding Actor. MORGAN FREEMAN was named Outstanding Supporting Actor for the ultimate positive portrayal as an African- American president in `Deep Impact’, last year’s hit meteor thriller.
Chicago Bulls star Michael Jordan, who recently announced his retirement from professional basketball, was honoured with the Jackie Robinson Sports Award.
But the big winner of the night was WILL SMITH, who was named Entertainer of the Year, as well as picking up a trophy for Outstanding Rap Artist and Outstanding Music Video for his hip-hop George Benson cover `Just the Two of Us’. Smith can do no wrong after starring in three back-to-back blockbusters – Independence Day, Men in Black and his current release, Enemy of the State, in which he plays a hot shot lawyer framed for murder by a corrupt intelligence official.

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