Female Artist of the Year: Mary J. Blige
Why?: No female singer impacted 2006 the way Mary did. Her runaway hit "Be Without You" broke records and the album it's from, The Breakthrough, was one of the year's most successful releases.
Runner up: Beyonce.
Male Artist of the Year: Chris Brown
Why?: In 2005, Chris emerged seemingly out of nowhere. And in 2006 became the shining star of this generation's young pop-R&B artists. He can sing, he can dance, he can act, and has a million-dollar smile on top of all that.
Runner up: Ne-Yo. Chris Brown might be the bigger star right now, but because of his songwriting ability, Ne-Yo just might have the longer career.
Group or Duo of the Year: Destiny's Child
Why?: 2006 was a really weak year for R&B groups. So DC gets this award pretty much by default, because even though they're officially broken up, they were still the most successful R&B group of the year. They even got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2006 and released a well-selling DVD.
Runner up: Cherish. Again, this was a weak year for R&B groups.
Single of the Year: "Be Without You," Mary J. Blige
Why?: Because in 2006, the song became the most successful release in the history of Billboard's R&B/Hip-Hop singles chart: it spent a record 15 straight weeks at No. 1.
Runner up: "I Am Not My Hair," by India.Arie. The most uplifting song of the year.
Album: The Breakthrough, Mary J. Blige
Why?: Because despite being released in December 2005, The Breakthrough completely dominated the singles and albums charts throughout a good portion of the first half of 2006.
Runner up: B'Day, Beyonce. Despite a slow start on the charts and mixed public reaction at first, B'Day eventually proved to be one of the better albums of the second half of 2006.
R&B/Rap Collaboration: "Daydreamin'," Lupe Fiasco feat. Jill Scott
Why?: Because it's a near-perfect blend of true Hip-Hop and strong R&B vocals, that's why.
Runner up: "Do It To It," Cherish, feat. Sean Paul (of YoungBloodZ). It's meaty, beaty, big and bouncy.
New Artist: Ne-Yo
Why?: After making a name for himself as a songwriter the past few years, Ne-Yo (real name: Shaffer Smith) stepped into the spotlight in 2006 and showed that he can sing (and dance) just as good as he can write. His debut album has a timeless quality, meaning that people will still be buying copies of it 10, 20 years from now.
Runner up: Chris Brown.
Songwriter: Johnta Austin
Why?: Johnta (pronounced jawn-TAY) is one of the writers behind numerous R&B hits of 2006, including Mary J. Blige's "Be Without You," Fantasia's "Hood Boy" and Bow Wow's "Shortie Like Mine." Plus, his own "Turn It Up" was one of 2006's underappreciated gems.
Runner up: Ne-Yo. He's partially responsible for Beyonce's "Irreplaceable" as well as his own hits like "Sexy Love" and "So Sick."
Comeback of the Year: The Brand New Heavies
Why?: After a few years away, the Heavies reunited with N'Dea Davenport (and the Delicious Vinyl label) and brought back the Funk in music.
Indie R&B Artist of the Year: Nino Moschella
Why?: Nino, who's signed to small indie label Ubiquity Records, released a deliciously addictive, minimalist Funk/Soul album, The Fix, in the Spring of 2006.
Runner up: Conya Doss, who released her third album, Love Rain Down, in October.