The BET Awards took place on Sunday at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles and it was definitely a night to remember where emotional and energetic performances from Sheila E., Stevie Wonder and Jennifer Hudson were featured.
The awards – or “The Prince Tribute Show”- were hosted by Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross and perhaps one of the most impassioned speeches of the evening came from Humanitarian Award winner, Jesse Williams.
Williams, who earned the award for his efforts as an activist, gave a fiery, nearly six-minute speech that brought the audience to its feet and earned a rousing applause.
Beyoncé kicked off the show with a surprise performance featuring Kendrick Lamar and multiple background dancers of her song Freedom, dancing in a pool of water to the song’s heavy beat. At one point, Lamar and Beyoncé kicked the water and danced in sync, drawing a heavy applause from the audience.
Sheila E., jamming on the drums and guitar, singing and dancing without shoes, closed the three-hour-plus show with Let’s Work, A Love Bizarre, The Glamorous Life, America and more. She was joined by Prince’s ex-wife, Mayte Garcia, who danced alongside the background dancers throughout the set. They ended by raising a purple guitar in the air as the audience cheered them on.
Hudson, rocking a white-hooded blazer, and Wonder, clad in a purple suit, sang Purple Rain — a month after the piano-playing icon performed the song with Madonna at the Billboard Music Awards, which BET dissed on Twitter. This time, Hudson was a vocal powerhouse, delivering screeching vocals while Wonder played piano and Tori Kelly was on guitar while a photo montage of Prince appeared on the purple-lit stage.
Though the BET Awards were heavy on honouring the icon who died on 21 April, the show went from Prince to political throughout the night tackling racial injustice, gun violence and the U.S. elect.
Empire star Taraji P. Henson who won best actress encouraged the audience to vote against presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
“I’m really not political but it’s serious out here, and for those who thing that, you know, ‘Oh he’s not going to win’ — think again. So we really need to pull together and turn this country around,” she said.
Here is the full list of winners:
Video of the Year — Beyonce, “Formation”
Best Male R&B/Pop Artist — Bryson Tiller
Best Female R&B/Pop Artist — Beyonce
Best Male Hip Hop Artist — Drake
Best Female Hip Hop Artist — Nicki Minaj
Best New Artist — Bryson Tiller
Best Group — Drake and Future
Best Collaboration — Rihanna featuring Drake, “Work”
Best Gospel — Kirk Franklin
Youngstars Award — Amandla Stenberg
Coca-Cola Viewers’ Choice — Beyonce
Centric Award — Beyonce, “Formation”
Video Director of the Year — Director X
Best Actor — Michael B. Jordan
Best Actress — Taraji P. Henson
Best Movie — “Straight Outta Compton”
Sportswoman of the Year — Serena Williams
Sportsman of the Year — Stephen Curry
Humanitarian Award — Jesse Williams
Lifetime Achievement — Samuel L. Jackson
Best International Act, U.K. — Skepta
Best International Act, Africa — Wizkid (Nigeria)