The BET Honors Show is one of the most important events of the year for the black community when it comes to music. While some of our favorites like Kendrick Lamar and D’Angelo took home golden gramophones this year, the Grammys, since its inception, has notoriously ignored the work of black artists. The BET Honors give black musicians and creatives the celebration and recognition they deserve in a time when their work is largely over looked.
This show was taped on March 5th and went down at The Warner Theater in Washington, D.C. Hosted by Arsenio Hall, this year’s show was an amazing conglomeration of tributes and performances dedicated to industry greats like L.A Reid (who won the Business of Entertainment Award) and Patti LaBelle (Musica Arts Award) among others like Oscar nominated director Lee Daniels, former U.S Attorney General Eric Holder and Mellody Hobson.
Usher gave a moving speech at the beginning of his tribute to L.A Reid before letting “the music talk for itself”. Usher performed a mash up of Bobby Brown’s “Roni”, Boyz II Men’s “End Of The Road” and his own “You Make Me Wanna” and “U Don’t Have To Call”. Toni Braxton also honored L.A Reid. Backed up by her equally talented sisters, Toni sang and danced to some of her biggest hits like “Un-break My Heart” and “He Wasn’t Man Enough” before jokingly sliding into Reid’s lap at the end of her performance to remind him of all of the great work he’s done in the music industry.
Maurice White and Natalie Cole finally received the tributes they so sorely deserved after the Grammys’ very short tribute to White (and let’s not forget that the Grammys barely paid tribute to Cole at all). Ledisi killed her tribute to Natalie Cole and sang her heart out on Cole’s “I’ve Got Love On My Mind” and “This Will Be (An Everlasting Love)”. Jazmine Sullivan and Raheem DeVaughn, backed by a choir and spectacular lights, honored Maurice White with their renditions of “September” and “Shining Star”. We were all elated to see two of the greatest artists of our time honored properly by the community that loves and respects their work and ever lasting influence in our culture.
Patti LaBelle, another one of our beloved greats, was almost moved to tears by Fantasia’s tribute to her when Fantasia performed “You Are My Friend”. Needless to say, Fantasia blew everyone away with her vocal abilities and drew a thunderous, standing ovation from the audience at the end of her performance. Jussie Smollet, Babyface and The Deele also lent their talents to the show and rounded out the all star musical cast.
If you missed the awards, check out some of the highlights of the show below!