More than four months later, Whitney Houston is still stealing the show.
Sure, the Sunday BET Awards featured hashtag-worthy performances from Nicki Minaj and D’Angelo (for very different reasons) and awards bestowed upon Kanye West and Jay-Z, Minaj and, uh, Mindless Behavior.
A highlight in the highly bleeped show included Jay-Z’s amusing acceptance speech with West, as he jokingly interrupted the rapper when he started to speak. “Excuse me, Kanye. I’m gonna let you continue, but…” Jay said, laughing, a reference to West’s infamous interruption of Taylor Swift’s MTV Video Music Awards speech a few years ago.
But the undeniable emotional core of the three-hour-40-minute show was the third hour tribute to Houston, designed to be the definitive act of closure from the music industry.
Mariah Carey first emerged from behind a set of sliding doors to talk about her relationship with Houston and how, despite the general assumption that the divas were enemies, they were actually good pals.
“I miss my friend. I miss hearing her voice and laughter,” Carey said with a catch in her throat. “But we’ll always have the music. We’ll always have that voice we all fell in love with. We’ll always have my friend, Miss Whitney Houston.”
Carey didn’t sing, though, leaving the first slot to Atlanta native Monica, who unleashed a powerful “I Love the Lord,” a song Houston recorded with the Georgia Mass Choir for “The Preacher’s Wife” soundtrack. Houston pal Brandy took over next with a sweet and spunky run through of “I’m Your Baby Tonight” and “I Wanna Dance with Somebody.”
And despite appearances from others including Angela Bassett, Houston’s brother Gary and Chaka Khan (performing, obviously, “I’m Every Woman”), the most riveting moment came when Houston’s mother, Cissy, clutching a tissue, sang the sad opening lines of “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”
Why this segment – and Cissy Houston’s portion in particular – wasn’t the finale of the show is a mystery.
But the ceremony rumbled on for another half hour with awards handed out to Mindless Behavior (the Viewers’ Choice award); Beyonce and Alan Ferguson (Video Director of the Year); and Chris Brown again (for the Fandemonium award).
What did you think of the show?
Here are some links to earlier posts about the ceremony and a list of key winners.
By Melissa Ruggieri, Atlanta Music Scene