When Cissy Houston, the mother of the late Whitney Houston, walked on stage, the star-studded crowd in the Shrine Auditorium in Hollywood, rose in a quiet respect.
“When you’re weary, feeling small/ When tears are in your eyes, I will dry them all. I’m on your side. Oh when times get rough and friends just can’t be found.”
Images of Cissy Houston and her daughter, Whitney, who died in February, flashed in the background. The camera cut to the audience and showed tears streaming down the face of Beyonce, Kanye West and Soulja Boy.
The tribute to Whitney Houston began with Mariah Carey, who said: “I miss my friend. I miss hearing her voice and laughter….The first time I heard Whitney’s voice I was mesmerized, like the rest of the world. Just an unknown budding singer myself, I was captivated by the power in her range, the richness of her tone and her unique ability to wrap a lyric in emotion.”
The tribute continued with Monica, backed by a full gospel choir, singing “I Love the Lord.” She was followed by an energetic performance by Brandy, singing, ”I’m Your Baby Tonight.” Brandy, duplicated Houston’s signature moves, as she sang “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.”
Then came Whitney’s brother, Gary Houston. “I love you back to life everyday, this day,” he said,” before introducing his mother, “our mother.”
Cissy Houston looked into the camera with sad eyes and sang her heart out. “Sail on silver girl, sail on by. Your time has come to shine. All your dreams are on their way.”
The cast of the movie, “Waiting to Exhale,” in which Whitney Houston starred, also paid tribute to Houston. Lela Rochon told the story about the first time she met Houston on the set. “I was excited and nervous and intimated to meet Whitney.”
Angela Bassett said Houston’s talent was amazing. “Whatever her burden, she has laid them down.”
Loretta Devine told the audience, “She was more than a singer, she was an actress, a mother, a daughter, a sister. She truly was every woman.”
Chaka Khan, in a gold dress and red hair, sang. “I’m every woman.”
In one promo, Jackson listed other “things too big to miss”: “The Statue of Liberty, Saying Please, the Taj Mahal, the Jolly Green Giant, Nicki Minaj’s assets. The people in the balcony. A Kardashian wedding. A Kardashian divorce…. BET Awards. Big host, [expletive.]”
Jackson’s promise was fulfilled. For residents in the D.C.-area who were still without power Sunday night, here’s a recap:
The broadcast highlighted performances by Usher, Nicki Minaj, G.O.O.D. MUSIC, Pusha T, Big Sean, Rick Ross, Meek Mill, Wale, 2 Chainz, and Chris Brown.
Brown, appeared on stage, in the center of three green pyramids. “Dearly beloved, if this love exists in my dreams, don’t wake me up,” he sang.
His body painted half in gray like a zombie, he sang “Don’t wake me up,” as ballerinas swirled around him like tiny trinkets in a music box. Then Brown sang his hit, “Turn up the music.”
No matter what one may think of his behavior off stage, on stage, there was no doubt the man can dance. He ended his performance with a round off and a back flip, as if to say, “Nothing else needs to be said.”
D’Angelo, who hasn’t appeared on television in 12 years, made a sultry comeback. In a black bandana, the artist sang to a crowd waiting with anticipation. Then 1:47 minutes into his performance, he left the standing mic and walked away, fading into the background lights. Was that it? Was he leaving the stage again for good?
Suddenly, he appeared at a keyboard, and the audience including Nicki Minaj, Beyonce and Solange rose to their feet. The camera panned on Kanye West next to Kim Kardashian, both wearing white.
Other show highlights included performances by Melanie Fiona; Yolanda Adams; Jessica Reedy; Amber Bullock; Y’anna Crawley, a D.C. resident who won BET’s gospel television competition, “The Sunday Best.”
Wale gave a shout-out to D.C. “Rest in Peace, Chuck Brown,” Wale said upon accepting the award with Miguel for Best Collaboration for “Lotus Flower Bomb.” “There would be no Wale without him.”
Kerry Washington and Jamie Foxx presented the award for Best Video of the Year. The nominees included Beyonce’s “Countdown,” and “Love on Top” which were matched against Usher’s “Climax” and “The Throne” by Jay-Z and Kanye West.
Cameras panned to Beyonce and Jay-Z playfully facing off in their seats.
“It’s going to be an argument at the crib, trying to see whose the hottest in the household,” Foxx said, before announcing that Jay-Z and West had one BET’s award for Video of the Year.
West began his speech, but was interrupted by Jay-Z, playing on West’s infamous interruption of another award winner.
“Excuse me, Kanye, I’m gonna let you continue but…”
They laughed. Kanye continued: “We don’t take it lightly. We put in so many hours to bring you the best product possible… I want to thank BET because I don’t always do that. I’m not always politically correct. I love y’all.”
Other winners included:
Beyonce—Best Female R&B Artist; Chris Brown—Best Male R&B Artist; “The Throne” won Best Group; Wale F/Miguel won Best Collaboration for “Lotus Flower Bomb”; Drake won Best Male Hip Hop Artist; Nicki Minaj won Best Female Hip Hop Artist.”
“This is the third year in a row,” Minaj said. “I don’t take it for granted.”
Big Sean won Best New Artist; Yolanda Adams won for Best Gospel; Video Director of the Year went to Beyonce and Alan Ferguson. “It was a great opportunity to direct,” Beyonce said, accepting the award.
Other winners included: Viola Davis for Best Actress; Kevin Hart won Best Actor; Diggy won the YoungStars Award; Best Movie went to “The Help.”
Serena Williams won the award for Sportswoman of the Year, while Kevin Durant won Sportsman of the Year. The Centric Award went to Common. The Coca-Cola Viewers Choice Award went to “Mindless Behavior.” Best International Act: Africa went to Sarkodie (Ghana) and Wizkid (Nigeria). Best International Act: UK went to Wretch 32.
The BET Humanitarian Award went to the Rev. Al Sharpton. The legendary Maze featuring Frankie Beverly received the Cadillac Lifetime Achievement Award.