The BET Awards aired this week, and with it came many stunning performances, notably a string of phenomenal tributes to Prince, who died on April 21 this year. After a number of fairly contentious performances, notably the highly-criticised choice of Madonna to lead the performance at the Billboard Music wards, BET responded with a full selection of covers, essentially turning the entire night into one big tribute.
Many of the performances were not made available for full viewing outside the US, but the good news is that all full videos from the BET Awards are now here for your viewing pleasure.
First came Erykah Badu, The Roots and Bilal giving it their all with heartwrenching covers of The Ballad of Dorothy Parker and The Beautiful Ones.
Stevie Wonder and Tori Kelly then performed Take Me With You, before Jennifer Hudson wowed with a truly stunning rendition of Purple Rain. Hudson also paid tribute to Prince’s fashion choice by wearing a hooded outfit reminiscent of his outfit at the People’s Choice Awards in 2005.
Janelle Monae was next, and much like Hudson, she honoured the late star’s fashion choices as well as his music, delivering a medley of Delirious, Kiss, Pop Life, and I Would Die 4 U in assless chaps, in tribute of the famous yellow jumpsuit Prince wore back at the 1991 MTV VMAs.
Maxwell performed his own new song, Lake By The Ocean, as well as Prince’s Nothing Compares 2 U:
Finally, Sheila E led a huge medley, featuring many of Prince’s collaborators, including members of his last band the New Power Generation, backup singers Shelby Johnson, Liv Warield, Lynn Mabry and Elisa Fiorello, Prince’s ex-wife, dancer Mayte Garcia, Jerome Benton and more. Speaking to Billboard about the emotional performance, Sheila noted, “I knew it was going to be very emotional on the first day of rehearsal. We were sound checking all of the instruments, which takes about two-three hours for setup. By the time we all got together, I said a prayer and then I knew we were going to sit there and cry. It took about 45 minutes to an hour for us to pull it together.
“It was the first time we’d been together as a family since all this happened. Everyone is still in disbelief; there’s been no closure yet. Saying goodbye to him just hasn’t happened yet. It’s hard.”