The Soul Train Music Awards is an annual award show which previously aired in national television syndication, and honors the best in Blackmusic and entertainment. It is produced by the makers of Soul Train, the program from which it takes its name, and features musical performances by various R&B and Soul recording artists interspersed throughout the ceremonies. The special traditionally used to air in either February, March or April, but now airs the last weekend of November (in most years, Thanksgiving weekend).
The Soul Train Music Award trophy has featured an African ceremonial mask since its 1987 introduction. A new trophy was designed by Tristan Eaton of Thunderdog Studios in 2009 and is manufactured by New York firm Society Awards. From 1995 to 2005 a separate award show named Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards was held, honoring female artists.
The original trophy is a bronze abstract sitting figure known as the Vanguard in 1987. However, the trophy is an African mask which is known as the Heritage Award. Its distinctive design created by an unknown sculptor, but its remains a visual trademark for Soul Train's representation of Black music.
From 1989 to 2007, the Heritage mask remained the trophy for Soul Train Music Awards until 2009 when BET and its sister channel Centric revived the awards. Thunderdog designed a brand new trophy based on the program's mascot, an actual train.