Meet the artists who performed at the 2016 awards.
Hoda Kotb is the co-host of the fourth hour of NBC's TODAY. She began hosting the 10 am hour when it debuted in 2007, and she currently hosts alongside Kathie Lee Gifford. Kotb has also been a Dateline NBC correspondent since 1998, and is a New York Times best-selling author for her two books, Hoda: How I Survived War Zones, Bad Hair, Cancer and Kathie Lee and Ten Years Later: Six People Who Faced Adversity and Transformed Their Lives. Her third book, Where We Belong, was released January 2016.
Since Gifford and Kotb teamed up, the fourth hour of TODAY has been hailed as "appointment television" by Entertainment Weekly, and "TODAY's happy hour" by USA Today. In 2010, TODAY received the Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Morning Program.
Kotb has covered a wide variety of domestic and international stories across all NBC News platforms as well as numerous human-interest stories and features. She covered, in-depth, the aftermath and one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, a story personal to Kotb, who lived in New Orleans for six years. She has reported on the war in Iraq, the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, and the war in Afghanistan. Kotb conducted an exclusive interview with Aung San Suu Kyi, an internationally recognized leader of Burma, marking the first time in 11 years that Suu Kyi was interviewed by an American television network. From 2004 to 2008, she served as the host of the weekly syndicated series Your Total Health.
Kotb traveled to Southeast Asia to cover the devastating effects of the 2004 tsunami, and she traveled to war-torn Burma, led secretly by rebel soldiers, to report the story of 12-year-old twin warriors who were said to have magical powers. Kotb also co-anchored an MSNBC special on race, Shades of Hope…Shadows of Hate, reported from Birmingham, AL, at the former site of a Klan bombing.
Kotb is a five-year breast cancer survivor and has been a part of several initiatives to raise awareness about the disease. Diagnosed in March 2007, she shared her story on TODAY in October 2007.
Kotb has received numerous awards, including the 2008 Gracie Award for Individual Achievement, the 2008 Alfred I. duPont–Columbia University Award and the prestigious Peabody in 2006 for her Dateline NBC report The Education of Ms. Groves. The four-time Emmy nominee also won the 2004 Headliner Award, the 2003 Gracie Award and the 2002 Edward R. Murrow Award.
Kotb graduated from Virginia Tech University with a BA in broadcast journalism. She resides in New York City.
Grammy Award winning sibling trio (Kimberly, Reid and Neil) The Band Perry have proven an unstoppable presence in music. The Band Perry, released in 2010, delivered five hit singles: the sextuple-platinum chart-topper "If I Die Young"—the video for which is now Vevo-certified for reaching 100 million plays, the platinum-selling "You Lie," the #1 single "All Your Life," "Hip to My Heart" and the gold-certified "Postcard from Paris."
For their gold-certified 2013 follow-up Pioneer, The Band Perry offered up the platinum-selling #1 singles "Better Dig Two" and "DONE" (a first for Reid and Neil as songwriters), as well as smash hits "Don't Let Me Be Lonely" and "Chainsaw." Kicking off the WE ARE PIONEERS WORLD TOUR in late 2013, the trio played hundreds of venues from Seattle to Sweden.
In February 2015, The Band Perry won the Grammy Award for Best Country Duo/Group Performance, having also earned multiple awards from the likes of The Country Music Association, CMT Music Awards, the American Country Awards and the Academy of Country Music. Recently named ambassadors for Teen Cancer America (a charity founded by The Who's Roger Daltrey), The Band Perry are putting the finishing touches on their third studio album. The band's anthemic new single "Live Forever" and its accompanying music video are out now. For tour dates and more on TBP, visit thebandperry.com.
Two-time Drama Desk Award nominated actress, singer and impressionist Christina Bianco has become a YouTube sensation with her diva impression videos. Gaining over 21 million views worldwide, Bianco is best known for her renditions of "Total Eclipse of the Heart" and "Let It Go," leading to performances on major television programs such as The Ellen Degeneres Show and The Queen Latifah Show. Bianco made her West End debut starring in The Menier Chocolate Factory's hailed production of Forbidden Broadway at the Vaudeville Theatre in London. In New York, Bianco recently starred Off-Broadway in the one-woman, multicharacter comedy, Application Pending (Drama Desk Award Nomination). Other New York credits include Newsical the Musical, Forbidden Broadway, Goes to Rehab (Drama Desk Award Nomination), Raffi On Broadway at the Gershwin Theatre, Tony and Tina's Wedding (Tina) and It Must Be Him. Bianco originated the role of Dora in the long-running National Tour of Dora The Explorer Live, including a sold-out run at Radio City Music Hall.
On television, Bianco currently plays the recurring role of Bianca on the POP TV sitcom Impress Me, produced by SoulPancake. She recently appeared in the Hallmark original movie series, Signed, Sealed, Delivered and VH1's I Love The 2000's. As a cabaret artist, Bianco performed weekly in an unprecedented eight-month run of 11 O'Clock Numbers at Feinstein's at Loews Regency. She has performed her critically acclaimed solo shows, Diva Moments and Party of One, to sold-out crowds at NYC's Birdland and regionally across the U.S. Abroad, Bianco has sold out extended runs headlining at London's famed Hippodrome and Royal Albert Hall's prestigious Elgar Room. Bianco also performs her shows on various international cruise ships.
Bianco frequently performs in concert as a soloist with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra as well as other major U.S. and Canadian symphonies. She has sung with R&B star Deborah Cox, guest starred on The Jerry Lewis Telethon and performed on NBC's the TODAY show. Bianco has been interviewed by and performed for the following entertainment news media outlets: HuffPost Live, ABC, NPR, CBS, Hallmark's Home & Family, Pix 11 and Foxnews.com. For more information, visit christinabianco.com.
The CraigLewis Band is made up of two best friends from Atlanta, GA. The duo's name is a combination of their last names (Zuri Craig and Jeffery Lewis). The singers met while competing against each other in a talent competition. They still can't decide who actually won the competition, but that doesn't matter now because they have been singing together for 10 years.
After performing together for years, they were ed by Tyler Perry and had the opportunity to perform with him in his stage play, Madea's Big Happy Family. Their performance in the play landed them an appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show. On the show they performed the theme song from the TV show The Brady Bunch; the same song Tyler Perry first heard them singing on YouTube. To date, The CraigLewis Band has over 7 million hits on YouTube.
In 2015, the duo took their talents to the America's Got Talent stage. After performing for months on the show, they finished in the top five. Today, you can find The CraigLewis Band singing and touring all over the world. To keep up with all the appearances and tour dates, please follow them on Twitter @craiglewisband.
Duwende (Doo-WEN-day) is a six-person a cappella band best known for their fiercely original, bass-and-beatbox-driven funk/pop style of music. In 2011, Duwende released Remember: The Music of Michael Jackson, gaining them widespread acclaim, and leading them to performances for the United Nations, Save The Children Benefit dinner hosted by Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee, Bill Clinton Global Initiative, the Java Jazz Festival in Jakarta and a World AIDS Day Event in Amsterdam. With its successful YouTube channel, the band has a growing fan base that circles the globe, and its music and arrangements have been used on TV shows internationally.
Duwende consists of J. Aaron Boykin (baritone/tenor), Derrick L. Hicks (tenor), Abbey Janes (soprano), Tomas Cruz (tenor), Edward Chung (vocal percussion) and David Lane (bass). Each member adds their own characteristics and talent to the group, giving them a cappella credibility along with band persona. Duwende is the perfect band to get you dancing, as The Contemporary A Cappella Society states, "These guys (and gal) know how to make music, and they know how to make their audiences get up on their feet and move. If you're looking for a true a cappella original, you don't have to look any further than Duwende."
Duwende's music has made avid fans of tastemakers Jermaine Dupri and Perez Hilton and earned them multiple Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards for Best Pop/Rock Album and Best Pop/Rock Original Song. Most recently, they were featured performers on NBC's The Winner Is, hosted by Nick Lachey, and were featured presenters for TED TALK x for Johnson & Johnson.
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