With powerful performances, inspirational speeches and a multitude of messages celebrating the upcoming Inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama, THE BET HONORS, held at the Warner Theatre in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, January 17, was the perfect “opening ceremony” to usher in the beginning of our nation’s historic weekend.
This year, THE BET HONORS, which pays tribute to the lives and achievements of leading African American luminaries, recognizes the accomplishments of legendary songstress Mary J. Blige (Entertainment); groundbreaking filmmaker Tyler Perry (Media); celebrated dancer and choreographer Judith Jamison (Education); businessman, philanthropist and basketball legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson (Corporate Citizen); entrepreneur extraordinaire B. Smith (Entrepreneur); and the Honorable Congressman James E. Clyburn (Public Service). Hosted by talented actress Gabrielle Union, the second annual show will premiere on BET during Black History Month on Monday, February 9 at 9:00 p.m.*
The tone for the evening was set from the start when Debra L. Lee, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of BET Networks, and the Honorable Mayor Adrien Fenty of Washington, D.C. welcomed the audience. They both emphasized how meaningful it was to host THE BET HONORS on the eve of the Inauguration of our nation’s first Black president, and how President-elect Barack Obama epitomizes the excellence that would be celebrated during the show.
Earvin “Magic” Johnson, this year’s recipient of The BET Honor for Corporate Citizen, was presented with his award by Samuel L. Jackson, while legendary singer/songwriter Stevie Wonder performed a stirring rendition of “Superstition” in Magic’s honor. Terrence Howard then introduced Entrepreneur Award honoree B. Smith, who was treated to a special performance of “Miss Independent” by Ne-Yo. Next up was Angela Bassett, Anthony Hamilton and a dancer with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, who performed a beautiful tribute to Judith Jamison, as she received The BET Honor for Education.
In an emotionally moving performance that had everyone in the theater on their feet with tears in their eyes, the incredible Anita Baker performed “One” and “Caught Up in the Rapture” and Monica sang “Not Gon’ Cry” to pay tribute to Mary J. Blige (Entertainment), who was presented with her award by Diddy. Tyler Perry received the Media Award, as Yolanda Adams and Joss Stone sang “Just a Prayer Away” in his honor. Hill Harper presented the Honorable Congressman James E. Clyburn with The BET Honors for Public Service, and Queen Latifah gave an unforgettable performance of “Wishing on a Star.”
Other highlights included Keyshia Cole’s “You Complete Me” and Stevie Wonder coming on stage for a second time for “Love’s in Need of Love Today.”