Now that’s how you dedicate a night to Prince’s music. After shading the 2016 Billboard Music Awards’ tribute to the Purple One last month, the 2016 BET Awards offered a comprehensive breakdown of Prince’s musical genius with honorary performances throughout the telecast.
After Erykah Badu stepped out with “The Ballad of Dorothy Parker,” Bilal stunned with his formidable falsetto on “The Beautiful Ones.” It’s a difficult song to tackle, especially in front of millions of viewers, but Bilal more than rose to the occasion.
Stevie Wonder, Tori Kelly and Jennifer Hudson then combined for a powerhouse medley of “Take Me With U” and “Purple Rain” that benefitted from Hudson’s heavenly vocals during the latter’s soaring finale. Up next was Maxwell, who swiveled to Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U” during his performance of his new single “Lake by the Ocean.”
The most energetic tribute of the night came from Janelle Monae, who paraded around the stage and radiated warmth during a show-stopping medley of “Delirious,” “Kiss,” “Pop Life” and “I Would Die 4 U.” And finally, Sheila E. commanded the stage with seven minutes of bleeding-heart remembrances, from “Housequake” to “Baby I’m a Star,” before bringing out The Time’s Jerome Benton to help close out the evening.
Sadly, one missing voice in the parade of tributes was D’Angelo’s. The R&B legend was supposed to close out the night with Sheila E., but apparently never showed (Questlove gave the world the heads-up during the telecast):
View many highlights of the 2016 BET Awards below: