Prince was the hallmark of Sunday night’s BET Awards at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. The late musician was honored with an array of tributes from new artists, established musicians, Prince’s peers and his biggest fans sprinkled throughout the ceremony.
Fittingly, the Roots and Erykah Badu kicked things off in the bubble bath, with funky Sign O’ The Times gem “The Ballad of Dorothy Parker.” Bilal followed Badu, embracing her in the first bars of “The Beautiful Ones,” nailing Prince’s galvanic vocal turns, his sobering falsetto. He even writhed on the floor of the stage as if possessed by the Purple One.
Comedian-actor Dave Chappelle, who famously impersonated Prince on The Chappelle Show introduced the first performers. Chappelle’s classic skit “Charlie Murphy’s True Hollywood Stories” was viewed nearly 600,000 times immediately following the singer’s death, according to Billboard.
Stevie Wonder and Tori Kelly’s spot was the most upbeat of the night. In complementing purple-accented outfits, the duo harmonized on the lilting Prince and the Revolution jam “Take Me With U.”
As Wonder and Kelly left the stage, Jennifer Hudson emerged in a pearly, hooded dress and gave the anthemic tribute of the night. The singer-actress rocked the house with a heart-quaking “Purple Rain,” and the crowd swayed in standing ovation.
BET’s Prince-heavy ceremony comes a month after the Billboard Music Awards, which featured what many viewed as lukewarm Prince tribute by Madonna, Stevie Wonder and Questlove. The Roots drummer defended Madonna’s “Purple Rain” and “Nothing Compares 2 U” tribute by tweeting: “Every Prince rendition will not be a life-changing orgasmic [e]xperience. Just to SING his work is brave enough” the day after the event. BET also responded to the underwhelming performance by tweeting: “Yeah, we saw that. Don’t worry. We Got You.”
Prince died of an accidental drug overdose on April 21 at age 57. His half brother, Alfred Jackson, attended the BET Awards.