While many people watch award shows to see the big winners, a huge part of the annual BET Awards has always been to celebrate our legends.
As the architects behind most of what we’re hearing on the radios today, music wouldn’t sound the same without the people who paved the way.
Before this year’s virtual BET Awards ceremony on June 28, we’re revisiting some of our favorite performances that paid homage to our most beloved musicians.
The reverbating shockwaves of Nipsey Hussle’s death continues to be felt by many in hip-hop. At the 2019 BET Awards, Marshia Ambrosius, YG, DJ Khaled and John Legend took the stage to commemorate their fallen brother-in-rhyme.
Dipping into his musician bag for this special moment, Jamie Foxx opened the performance with an acapella of Anita Baker’s classics. In a blissful union of vocal powerhouses, Ledisi, Yolanda Adams and Marsha Ambrosisus delivered heavenly covers of Baker’s hits, including “Same Ole Love,” “Angel,” and “Caught Up in the Rapture.”
The 2017 BET Awards marked a rare reunion of New Edition and the legendary R&B group had the crowd on their feet. Bobby Brown, Johnny Gill, Ronnie DeVoe, Ralph Tresvant, Ricky Bell and Michael Bivens were joined by the cast of the BET biopic. They performed their classics, “Poison,” “Mr. Telephone Man,” “Can You Stand The Rain” and “If It Isn’t Love.”
Prince’s impact on music is timeless and the 2016 BET Awards was an ode to the Purple One who passed away in April that same year. Sheila E., Janelle Monáe, Erykah Badu, The Roots, Stevie Wonder, Bilal and Jennifer Hudson made this a night to remember.
There’s no other music entity that has impacted the modern musical landscape more than Motown Records and Smokey Robinson was a key player in the legendary record label. Ne-Yo, Robin Thicke, and Tori Kelly honored Robinson at the 2015 BET with performances of “Ooo Baby Baby,” “Tears of a Clown,” and the immortal “Who’s Loving You,” made famous by the Jackson 5 and written by Smokey Robinson. The Motown legend closed out the performance with “Tracks of My Tears,” “Cruisin’” and “My Girl,” proving good music will always stand the test of time.
The 2012 BET Awards came just five months after Whitney Houston tragically died in February of 2012. An emotional Mariah Carey introduced the tribute, which included Monica and Brandy with powerful covers of “I Love The Lord,” “I’m Your Baby Tonight” and “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.” The performance closed with a moving rendition of “Bridge Over Troubled Water” from Whitney’s mother, Cissy Houston.
Chris Brown gave us all the feelings in this now iconic tribute to Michael Jackson, one year after the King of Pop’s death. He busted out all of the late icon’s legendary dance moves as he ran through his greatest hits until he was overcome with emotion while performing “Man In The Mirror.”
Back in 2006, BET paid homage to the Queen of Funk. Yolanda Adams kicked it off with a heavenly rendition of Khan’s 1984 classic “I Feel For You,” which was written by Prince. The performance was followed by a delightfully funkadelic rendition of ”Tell Me Something Good” from Prince, Stevie Wonder, and India.Arie.
(Photo from left: M. Caulfield/WireImage and Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)