Exploding from the Warner Theater in Washington D.C. and hosted by Arsenio Hall, the 2016 BET Honors was filled with pleasant surprises. Before March 14th 8 PM on Monday nights have never looked or sounded so good.
Since its debut back in 2008, BET Honors has paid tribute to the accomplishments of African-American luminaries. This years’ honorees included legendary soul songstress Patti Labelle, prolific music executive, producer, and songwriter, LA Reid, Oscar-nominated film producer and director Lee Daniels, Financial/Investment Management Executive Mellody Hobson and Attorney General Eric Holder.
The evening was full of amazing performances including the star-studded tribute to super producer LA Reid. Renowned R&B songstress and one of Reid’s first protegees, Toni Braxton opened the show with a medley of her hits “He Wasn’t Man Enough,” “Breathe Again,” “Seven Whole Days,” and “Un-Break My Heart”, which Reid and Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, helped bring to fruition. Backed by her sisters, Trina, Traci, and Towanda, Braxton sashayed across the stage in a short silver ensemble and ended her set by engaging in playful banter with Reid. The fun didn’t stop there. The 1980s soul group The Deele also came to show love since both Reid and Edmonds were both members of the group before becoming the hitmaking production duo that we know of today.
Reuniting onstage for the first time in 28 years, The Deele, performed nostalgic versions of their hits “Body Talk” and the ageless slow jam “Two Occasions”. With Edmonds on guitar, and Reid assuming his former position of playing the drums, it felt like 1987 all over again. Continuing the LA Reid hoopla was hitmaking R&B singer Usher. Usher continued the soul filled nostalgia by performing a medley of Reid/Edmonds produced hits such as Boyz II Men’s “End of the Road” and Bobby Brown’s “Roni” before hopping into the 90s and early 2000s with his own hits “You Make Me Wanna” and”U Don’t Have To Call.” There is no wonder why Reid’s smile shined the entire evening.
Other breathtaking performances included Empire’s Jussie Smollett and Fantasia. Smollett beautifully honored the show’s creator Lee Daniels with a medley of his original song “Powerful” along with an equally powerful rendition of Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror”, while the Grammy-winning American Idol alum flexed her vocal prowess during her tribute to Patti LaBelle. Her soulful rendition of Labelle’s “You Are My Friend”, practically had the legendary honoree in tears.
In addition to many honoring the legends that are still here, some chose to impeccably honor the ones that we lost this year. Grammy-nominated singer Ledisi honored Natalie Cole with rousing renditions Cole’s classic hits, “This Will Be”, and “I’ve Got Love on My Mind,” while Jazzmin Sullivan and Raheem Devaughn soulfully paid homage to musical innovator and Earth Wind and Fire bandleader, Maurice White with their showstopping renditions of EWF’s hits, “September” and “Shining Star.”
With so much excitement, one can’t help but anticipate what’s in store for next year!