Last night the long-awaited BET Awards took place at L.A.’s Microsoft Theater, something you already know if you were tuned in to BET yesterday. Some key moments may have escaped your attention even if you watched the ceremony so we have compiled a few of them for your enjoyment.
Jesse Williams: No, the man familiar to Grey’s Anatomy fans as Dr. Jackson Avery has made no musical exploits worth talking about. He was being celebrated at the award show for his “commitment to furthering social change”. This was a summary of his many efforts in tackling racism in the wake of the Michael Brown and Eric Garner incidents of 2014. Among those efforts is an appearance in the protests in Ferguson following the death of Brown and his stirring documentary on the Black Lives Matter movement ‘Stay Woke’. He both executive-produced and acted in the film, which debuted on BET in May. William’s acceptance speech was delivered with power and panache. He started off by dedicating his trophy to the “real organizers all over the country, the activists, the civil rights attorneys the struggling parents…” before launching into an impassioned appeal for “equal rights and justice in our country”. Even before he was done Williams was bathed in a standing ovation by the audience, which included his proud parents and wife. Only thing that was missing was a mic-drop at the end.
Beyoncé and Kendrick: The star pairing combined efforts to offer a rousing live performance of ‘Freedom’, a song off Queen Bey’s latest album ‘Lemonade’. It was as powerful an opening as the organizers of the showpiece could have hoped for. Clad in her trademark black leotard, the R&B goddess and her energetic dancers quickly had the audience on its feet. Kendrick jumped in with a rapid-fire spoken word while Beyoncé and her backup dancers stomped in time to aggressive drums. Nuff said, watch a snippet of the power duet below.
Prince: It’s two months since he bid us farewell but the presence of The Purple One weighed heavily on the awards ceremony, particularly in the special tribute offered up by distinguished artists. Prince’s tribute at last month’s Billboard Music Awards did not go down well with many viewers and BET made a promise then to pay the pop god a more fitting homage. This time the musical offertory was conducted by drum queen Sheila E., R&B legend Maxwell, Erykah Badu, Janelle Monáe, and Bilal among others. Monáe captured the memory of Prince’s legendary eccentricity by appearing in a replica of the butt-bearing ensemble he once rocked. Equally arresting was her performance of his hits including ‘Kiss’, ‘Delirious’ and ‘I Would Die 4 U’. Bilal was no less enthusiastic in his delivery of ‘The Beautiful Ones’. Watch him slay the audience, including one Tyrese Gibson with signature Prince moves and vocal shifts.
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