Sunday’s BET awards provided an opportunity for a number of the U.S.’s biggest stars to pay tribute to Prince, an artist who become well-known over the years for his influence on black entertainment. The purple one was honored throughout the night with a number of performances from artists new and old.
The first tribute came from Erykah Badu back by The Roots performing “The Ballad of Dorothy Parker” in her trademark style that combined R&B with jazz. The singer belted the song in a chilling rendition that justified her presence as the queen of neo-soul. She was then joined by Bilal who performed “Beautiful Ones” with everything inside him. Bilal ended the performance on the floor.
Stevie Wonder and Tori Kelly continued by dancing their way through “Take Me With U” while wearing purple attire. The performance was followed by Jennifer Hudson’s performance of “Purple Rain,” resulting in a standing ovation. Maxwell performed a cover of power ballad “Nothing Compares 2 U” written by Prince and later made famous by Sinéad O’Connor. As reported by Rolling Stone, The R&B singer updated the lyrics, singing “It’s been 7 hours and 66 days since you took your music away,”
Janelle Monae performed a slew of Prince hits, including “Delirius,” “Kiss,” “Pop Life,” and “I Would Die For You” all while decked out in white, Prince-inspired outfits. The singer has been opening recent stops of her tour with Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy.”
The performances have been far better received than the tributes provided by the Billboard Music Awards from Madonna, Stevie Wonder, and Questlove. However, one absence was noted. Soul singer D’Angelo was slated to play Sunday night, but never made it on stage. The absence was address in a tweet by Questlove, but no further explanation was provided. In April, the “Black Messiah” singer, backed by Maya Rudolph’s Princess, provided a highly emotional tribute when he performed “Sometimes It Snows in April” on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.
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