Beyonce and Lendrick Lamar perform at the 2016 BET Awards; Image courtesy BETBET had a lot to live up to Sunday night at the 2016 BET Awards, and it’s safe to say — the network delivered.
After taking aim at the Billboard Awards and Madonna last month for their Prince tribute, the network provided a series of tributes to the fallen icon throughout the night. Highlight included from Jennifer Hudson wrecking the house with “Purple Rain,” soul singer Bilal channeling the Purple One in his performance of “Beautiful Ones” and Stevie Wonder and Tori Kelly teaming up for the Purple Rain duet “Take Me with U.” Maxwell also belted out “Nothing Compares 2 U,” Janelle Monet revved up the crowd with a set of Prince songs that included “Kiss” and Shelia E closed out the show with a string of Prince hits including, “Erotic City” and “Let’s Go Crazy.”
To start off the festivities, the network quickly got into “formation” with a surprise appearance by Beyonce who stunned the crowd with a live performance of “Freedom”. Queen Bey silently awaited her dancers as they marched into the theater to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, and performed a water dance accompanied by Kendrick Lamar‘s powerful lyrics.
Other notable performances included, Fat Joe, Remy Ma and French Montana performing, “All the Way Up”; Desiigner‘s hit “Panda,” Alicia Keys singing her new single “In Common”; Bryson Tiller offering crowd favorites “Don’t” and “Exchange”; Maxwell crooning his smooth ballad, “Lake by the Ocean” and Usher providing a “No Limit” performance with Atlanta rapper Young Thug.
The theme of social and political activism stayed present throughout the night. Hosts Tracee Ellis Ross and Anthony Anderson repeatedly reminded viewers to get out and vote, while Grey’s Anatomy star Jesse Williams, who received the Humanitarian Award, delivered the most inspiring speech of the evening that called for action and change in the community.
“The more we learn about who we are and how we got here, the more we will mobilize,” he said, dedicating his award to black women “who have spent their lives dedicated to nurturing everyone before themselves. We can and will do better for you.”
Other award winners of the night included Samuel L. Jackson who received a Lifetime Achievement Award for his catalog of work.
Here are the 2016 BET Award winners:
Best Male R&B/Pop Artist — Bryson Tiller
Best Female R&B/Pop Artist — Beyoncé
Best Actor — Michael B. Jordan
Best Actress — Taraji P. Henson
Best Movie — Straight Outta Compton
Best New Artist — Bryson Tiller
Video of the Year — Beyoncé, “Formation”
Best Male Hip-Hop Artist — Drake
Best Female Hip-Hop Aritst — Nicki Minaj
Best Collaboration — Rihanna ft. Drake, “Work”
Best Group — Drake and Future
Best Gospel — Kirk Franklin
Youngsters Award — Amandla Stenberg
Centric Award — Beyoncé, “Formation”
Video Director of the Year — Director X
Dr. Bobby Jones Gospel Inspirational Award — Kirk Franklin
Coca-Cola Viewers’ Choice Award — Beyoncé, “Formation”
Sportsman of the Year — Stephen Curry
Sportswoman of the Year — Serena Williams
Best International Act Africa — Wizkid (Nigeria)
Best International Act U.K. — Skepta
Humanitarian Award — Jesse Williams
Lifetime Achievement Award — Samuel L. Jackson
Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.