( 4UMF NEWS ) BET Awards Prince Tribute:
Performers at Sunday’s BET Awards were working up a “Black Sweat” for the late music legend Prince in a much-hyped tribute featuring a star-studded lineup.
The pressure was on the network, which trashed the Billboard Music Awards for a Madonna-led Prince tribute last month — an homage that was so widely panned on the Internet that even an appearance by legend Stevie Wonder couldn’t save it.
“Yeah, we saw that,” BET tweeted after the Billboard program. “Don’t worry. We Got You.”
Wonder was featured in one of several segments honoring the “Black Sweat” and “Purple Rain” singer at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. Others paying tribute to Prince included Erykah Badu, The Roots, Jennifer Hudson and Prince protege Sheila E., who closed the show with an emotional jam session.
“I was trying to hold back tears,” Sheila E. said after the performance. “It was hard to figure out what I was going to play and you know, do something that was uplifting, so we wouldn’t be sad and mopey. So I tried to pick songs that he and I had done together a lot, that we were known for doing together. It’s been therapeutic to know he kind of helped us all to get through.”
“Prince was a friend of mine,” said singer Anthony Hamilton. “I used to go to his house all the time. This is very, very meaningful to me. It’s different voices that are made to mimic certain artists, certain talent, and when you pick the right ones it works out well.”
Prince, 57, died of a drug overdose on April 21 at his Paisley Park compound near Minneapolis. His half-brother, Alfred Jackson, attended and walked the red carpet.
Singer Beyoncé kicked off the night, teaming up with Kendrick Lamar on her hit “Freedom,” which began with a Martin Luther King Jr. speech playing in the background.
Actor Jamie Foxx led BET’s Muhammad Ali tribute, which featured tearful memories from The Champ’s daughter Laila. Ali, 74, died June 3 after a long fight with Parkinson’s disease.
“My father also once said, ‘If people loved each other as much as they loved me, it would be a better world,’ ” Laila Ali said. “If he was here today, he would humbly ask you to pray not just for our family, but for all of mankind.”
“He’s the guy you have to look up to,” said Dallas Cowboys star Ezekiel Elliott, as he walked the red carpet.
“He’s the greatest athlete to walk the earth. He was the first guy who was really not afraid to be different. He wasn’t afraid to speak his mind. He was so confident, and he backed it up.”