That voice, that grace, that hair. Everything about Janet Jackson was glowing last night as she accepted the BET Ultimate Icon: Music Dance Visual Award following an all-star tribute featuring Ciara, Tinashe and Jason Derulo. “I’m so grateful for the support you’ve alway given me,” said the the 49-year-old. “My heart is so full. Thank you God for making anything, everything possible.”
Ms. Patti joined Tamar Braxton and K. Michelle for a rousing rendition of her hit, “If Only You Knew.” To some it may have seemed like a simple trio, to us, it felt like an R&B diva teaching the young’uns how it’s done, in song and in life.
Their medley of songs celebrating the lives of those who have left us—including B.B. King and the Charleston 9—left no eyes dry in the room. But Twitter’s reaction to Hamilton’s buttery soft voice made things lighthearted. “Whenever Anthony Hamilton start singing a pot of greens start cooking,” tweeted one fan.
We’re sure we weren’t the only ones wondering who Tori Kelly was after her performance of the Jackson 5’s “Who’s Loving You?” during the Smokey Robinson tribute.
During his acceptance of the Lifetime Achievement Award, Robinson expressed his undying gratitude to his fans and urged his fellow performers to stay humble in their fame. “It’s like a bittersweet wine, and it’s intoxicating,” he said. “There are so many people in this world who wish they had one person who they felt love them. And for you to become hearty and self-absorbed because millions of people around the world—most of them you’ll never know or never meet—love you, it’s so ridiculous. You should be thankful. It’s a blessing.” Consider this one more reason we love Smokey.
Nicki Minaj thanked her mother, Carol Maraj, as she accepted her Best Female Hip Hop Artist award. “I always talk about my mommy,” she said. “I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything you’ve done for me, I love you so much.”
Yasss. Kendrick’s opening performance got us hyped for the rest of the evening. The ESSENCE Fest headliner started the awards show off on a powerful note, spitting a new verse of “Alright” while standing in front of a ripped American flag and rapping on top of vandalized police cars. We still have chills.
When Rihanna stepped to the mic and said, “I’m only here for one reason,” she meant it. From her seat in the audience, bad gal Rih Rih strategically came with props and used the entire award show to promote her upcoming video, #BBHMM. That being said, we can’t wait for what’s to come.
It’s the end of a drama-filled era for Tamar Braxton and K. Michelle. After years of feuding (remember when Tamar accused K. of stealing her wig? And earlier this year, K. called Tamar a muppet?), the two decided to squash their beef and make up once and for all. After performing separately, the two united to sing “If Only You Knew” during a Patti LaBelle tribute. “Life is all about forgiveness, love and unity, so tonight, I’m sorry, K. Michelle, and I also forgive you,” Tamar said. We just love a happy ending!
When Jussie speaks, you listen! The Empire star took a moment to speak out on LGBT rights during his “You’re so Beautiful” performance. “We live in a nation where freedom is what we represent, yet we are still fighting every day for the basic freedoms of our people,” he said, saying that the Supreme Court’s decision is proof that our society has come a long way, but there is still work to be done. “No one is free until we are all free.” Preach, Jussie.
And he certainly left a mark. Jidenna had tons of beautiful brothas walking down the aisles in “Classic Man” signs. It looked a little something like a movement!