By Stephen M. Silverman
March 22, 2004 05:40 PM

Safely sealed in a white gown, disgraced Super Bowl diva Janet Jackson faced the music at the 18th annual Soul Train Music Awards on Saturday, where she accepted a career achievement honor, while OutKast took the night’s big prize, album of the year.

“You’ve been there for me during the good times as well as the bad, and you’ve lifted me up with your love,” the singer, 37, told the cheering crowd, Reuters reports. “Your love and support has always been a great source of comfort, especially in these last few weeks.”

Avoiding any specific mention of her Feb. 1 breast-baring halftime scandal, and claiming to be “amazed” that she’s lasted in showbiz for 30 years, Jackson went on to say: “That endurance is my heritage, as a woman, and especially a black woman. I’m convinced that we black women possess a special, indestructible strength that allows us to not only get down but to get up, to get through and to get over.”

At that point the orchestra struck up, to let Jackson — the recipient of the Quincy Jones award — know that her time was up, and she dodged reporters backstage, says Reuters, noting that she briefly posed for photographers.

The male Quincy Jones honoree was another controversial figure, R&B singer R. Kelly, 36 (real name: Robert Sylvester Kelly), who is facing multiple charges of child pornography in Chicago. He, too, avoided journalists backstage at Los Angeles’s International Cultural Center, where the event was held.

The night’s big winner was hip-hop duo OutKast (R&B/soul/rap album of the year award for their Grammy-winning opus “Speakerboxxx/The Love Below,” and the video prize for the infectious dance anthem “Hey Ya!”).

Beyonce Knowles, 22, who had led the field with four nominations, won in only one category, best R&B/soul album by a female for her solo debut, “Dangerously in Love.”

OutKast and Knowles also took home Sammy Davis Jr. awards for entertainer of the year.