×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

BET Awards: President Debra Lee Thought of Prince Tribute ‘Since the Moment That He Passed Away’

The long-awaited Prince tribute from BET aired live Sunday night from the Microsoft Theater in Downtown Los Angeles. After the network’s Twitter account shamed the Billboard Awards in May, it challenged Madonna’s performance with four different musical medleys for the late icon’s send off.

BET president Debra Lee told Variety on the red carpet that the team’s decision to do something different this year was more proactive than reactionary to Billboard’s dedication to Prince. Dave Chappelle and Jamie Foxx introduced the long list of performers, which included Erykah Badu, the Roots, Stevie Wonder, Bilal, Maxwell, Tori Kelly, Sheila E., Janelle Monae and Jennifer Hudson.

“We’ve been thinking about this since the moment that Prince passed away. We were lucky enough to pay tribute to him in a lifetime achievement award, but he’s such an amazing artist that deserves an amazing tribute,” Lee said.

Yvette Nicole Brown asserted that Sunday night’s performance had such high stakes because “that’s the one we’ve all been waiting for.” The actress reasoned that BET’s connection to the late artist was a special one.

“I don’t have a problem with Madonna doing her thing,” she said. “If she wanted to send off her friend, God bless, but tonight is the one that people will be talking about like, ‘Oh my God!.’”

“Everybody loved him, but he was ours,” she added.

Orlando Jones agreed with Brown before he stated, “I think [tributes] have obviously been done in a lot of places, but to be fair, this is the biggest awards show on cable and what it’s most known for is its ability to put a collection of people of color together in a really interesting and special way.”

BET also celebrated two actors during its award show ceremony. Samuel L. Jackson was honored with the lifetime achievement award and Jesse Williams received this year’s humanitarian award.

More Music

  • 50 Cent Power

    NYPD Officer Under Investigation for Allegedly Telling Police to Shoot 50 Cent 'on Sight'

    A New York City precinct commander is under investigation for allegedly telling officers to shoot rapper 50 Cent on sight, a police rep confirmed to Variety on Sunday. “The matter is under internal review,” an NYPD rep said, declining to answer further questions. Deputy Inspector Emanuel Gonzalez is accused of telling officers during a June 7 roll [...]

  • Phoebe Bridgers Slams Ryan Adams’ ‘Network’

    Phoebe Bridgers Slams Ryan Adams’ ‘Network’ of Enablers

    Singer-songwriter Phoebe Bridgers, one of multiple women who accused Ryan Adams of sexual misconduct last week in a New York Times article, issued a statement late Saturday slamming the “network” of people who enabled Adams’ behavior. “It’s been a weird week and I wanted to say a couple things,” she wrote on Instagram. “Thank you [...]

  • Bette Midler

    Bette Midler to Perform on the Oscars (EXCLUSIVE)

    Bette Midler will perform “The Place Where Lost Things Go” at the Oscar ceremonies on Feb. 24, Variety has learned. Midler, a longtime friend of composer-lyricist Marc Shaiman, will sing the song originally performed by Emily Blunt in “Mary Poppins Returns.” The song, by Shaiman and his lyricist partner Scott Wittman, is one of five [...]

  • Kacey Musgraves, winner of the awards

    Kacey Musgraves to Present at the Oscars

    Hot off her album of the year award at last weekend’s Grammys, Kacey Musgraves has been tapped to present at the Oscars on Feb. 24, Variety has learned. She joins previously announced presenters Chris Evans, Brie Larson, Awkwafina, Daniel Craig, Tina Fey, Whoopi Goldberg, Jennifer Lopez, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Amandla Stenberg, Charlize Theron, Tessa Thompson, [...]

  • Olmo Teodoro Cuaron, Alfonso Cuaron and

    Alfonso Cuarón Tells Why His Scoreless 'Roma' Prompted an 'Inspired' Companion Album

    Back around the ‘90s, “music inspired by the film” albums got a bad name, as buyers tired of collections full of random recordings that clearly were inspired by nothing but the desire to use movie branding to launch a hit song. But Alfonso Cuarón, the director of “Roma,” is determined to find some artistic validity [...]

  • Panic at the Disco Concert Review

    Concert Review: Panic! at the Disco Brings Theatrical Flair to Forum

    At one particularly crowd-pleasing point during Panic! at the Disco’s show Friday at the Forum, Brendon Urie played the group’s cover of one of the “Greatest Showman” songs, from the recent tribute album devoted to that film, and it’s not hard to see why he would gravitate to the musical. Urie’s so much of a [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content