The BET Awards delivered not one but many musical tributes to Prince. You can see video highlights as Sheila E., Stevie Wonder, Janelle Monae, Jennifer Hudson, Maxwell and many others give spirited performances of the legendary artist’s music.
BET had plenty to live up to after infamously Tweeting “Yeah, we saw that. Don’t worry. We Got You.” after Madonna’s much-panned tribute to Prince at the Billboard Music Awards. The Queen of Pop had donned a Prince inspired purple Paisley suit to perform his iconic ‘Nothing Compares to U’ as well as ‘Purple Rain’ with an assist from Stevie Wonder.
Aafter that, social media was in uproar, along with BET and their now deleted Tweet. Needless to say the BET Awards were going under the proverbial microscope. Would the show deliver?
This was no ordinary award show. Comedian David Chappelle was first to pay tribute, in a spoken remembrance. He said in part, “I was 11 years old when Purple Rain came out, and by the time I was 20, Prince had changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol.”
He went on to say, “We miss him dearly. And tonight we celebrate the rich legacy of this remarkable genius, who we are all so proud of.”
The 2016 BET Awards became a tribute show to Prince, with some awards and ancillary performances, not least, the stunning surprise appearance of Beyonce, opening the show with a scorching,d theatrical rendition of ‘Freedom’ from her album, ‘Lemonade’ with rapper Kendrick Lamar.
Taking to the stage in tribute, were Stevie Wonder and Tori Kelly performing the duet ‘Take Me with U,’ which Prince and Apollonia sang in ‘Purple Rain.’
Jennifer Hudson took the entire audience to church with a powerful, spine-tingling gospel-infused performance of “Purple Rain.” We had now gone from a tribute show to the public memorial service for Prince that we never had.
Maxwell in his performance, brought that same memorializing spirit. He performed his new single ‘Lake by the Ocean’ and segued into a performance of Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2U” such as we have never heard before. Switching up the lyrics, he sang out the pain and the loss the world has been: “It’s been 7 hours and 66 days since you took your music away.”
Other standout performers — and yes, there were so many — were Stevie wonder, The Roots and Erykah Badu performed one of Prince’s classics, ‘The Ballad of Dorothy Parker.’ Bilal eeriely channeled Prince with his falsetto rendition of ‘The Beautiful Ones.’
Janelle Monae brought jubilation with her medley of dance friendly classings including “Delirious,” “Kiss,” “Pop Life” and “I Would Die for You..”
Finally, as the evening was coming to an end, Sheila E., Princes protege and former fiance took to the stage in a powerful performance of some The Purple One’s most iconic hits of the 1980s. Beginning on the drums, and later taking to guitar, and to dancing barefoot, she led the band in an epic 10-minute set that included “Earthquake,” “Erotic City,” “Let’s Work,” “U Got the Look,” “America the Beautiful,” and “Baby I’m a Star” as well as her own hit single, “The Glamorous Life: which Prince wrote. With Prince’s former wife Mayte Garcia standing beside her, she closed out her performance with tears streaming down.
In the end, a tribute is just that. A remembrance of all that we lost when Prince departed this world much too soon. You can see highlights of the BET Awards tribute to Prince below.
Pictures: PR Photos