Since its inception 20 years ago, the BET Awards stage has been a home for some of Black music’s biggest stars and icons. Yes, the accolades are a big part of the BET Awards. But, it wouldn’t be a family affair if we didn’t give space to our stars even through their ups and downs.
In a moment that will go down in award show history, R&B legend El DeBarge surprised everyone when he took the stage at the 2010 BET Awards in his first public appearance in 2008 following a two-year prison stint for drug possession.
Ahead of this year’s 20th annual celebration of Black music on June 28 at 8PM EST, we’re putting a spotlight on some of the top returns to stage moments.
Kanye West had had his public hiccups over the years, most infamously him interrupting Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards. Following the backlash, Yeezus assumed a low profile. In a moment no one saw coming, the Chicago MC opened the 2010 BET Awards with “Power” in his first public performance since the fiasco. The track would later be released on his acclaimed fifth studio album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy but at the time fans were just happy to see Ye back as himself. Donning an all-red ensemble and giant gold chain pendant, he fired through the song from atop a volcano.
On the heels of the unsuccessful studio efforts of 2001’s Glitter and 2002’s Charmbracelet, Mariah Carey released her iconic tenth studio album, The Emancipation of Mimi, in 2005. The Grammy-winning, best-selling record marked a pivotal redemptive arc in her music career and spawned her 16th No. 1 hit “We Belong Together,” which she performed at the 2005 BET Awards. Transforming the stage into a dreamy tropical beachfront getaway, the legendary R&B songstress took the stage alone with no background singers or band.
The 2010 BET Awards had some pretty iconic moments but none quite took the cake than when R&B icon El DeBarge took the stage to perform a medley of his hits looking (and sounding!) better than ever, marking his first public appearance since 2008. He performed a combo of his solo hits and some from his stint in his family’s musical group, DeBarge. El opened the performance with “All This Love,” followed by his 1982 classic “I Like It” and “Time Will Reveal.” Closing out the moment, El serenaded the audience with “Rhythm of the Night” and “Second Chance,” the lead single of his first album of the same title in over 16 years.
(Photo: Michael Caulfield/WireImage)