BET promised something special after it slammed Madonna‘s Prince tribute at the 2016 Billboard Music Awards — and on Sunday, June 26, it delivered as stars such as Jennifer Hudson, Stevie Wonder and Sheila E. pulled out all the stops to give the “Purple Rain” singer a fitting send off at the 2016 BET Awards.
The event, held at Los Angeles’ Microsoft Theater, was hosted by Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross, and the duo gave us some unforgettably hilarious moments throughout the night as they led their audience through the awards presentations.
When put together with a jaw-dropping performance by Beyoncé and a stirring, impassioned call to arms by Grey’s Anatomy’s Jesse Williams, there’s no denying it was a night to remember.
Check out the top five moments below:
1. Beyonce Slays With Amazing Show Opener
Surprise! Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar opened the awards with a powerful performance of her song “Freedom,” which saw the 34-year-old superstar splashing her way across the stage in a giant lap pool. The barefoot performer strutted through the water with her female dancers while belting the liberating tune from her latest visual album, Lemonade.
2. Jesse Williams Gives Passionate Speech on Racism in America
The Grey’s Anatomy star left audience members in tears with his moving acceptance speech, in which he slammed the unfair treatment of black people across the United States. After thanking his family and friends, and paying tribute to black women and the sacrifices they make, he went on to address everything from police killings to the unattributed theft of black culture.
“If you have no interest in equal rights for black people than do not make suggestions to those who do,” he said. “Sit down.”
3. Tracee Ellis Ross and Anthony Anderson Leave Audiences Roaring With Laughter
If ever there was a night to remember Prince’s buttless pants, it was tonight! Black-ish stars Ross and Anderson wowed with a number of awesome and hilarious onstage moments, including the moment they donned clothes from the smash-hit musical Hamilton for a performance of 2016’s biggest hits, all done in the style of the show.
But it was Anderson’s moment in the spotlight, sporting Prince’s famous chaps, that got the most laughs of the night!
4. Prince Tribute 1: Jennifer Hudson
Hudson took the stage to perform an emotional rendition of Prince’s “Purple Rain” — and she absolutely nailed it. The singer had previously sung “Purple Rain” with the cast of The Color Purple on Broadway hours after Prince’s death, and this latest performance was as well received by audience members and those watching the show on TV as the last.
“Jennifer Hudson tearing the ROOF OFF,” Mia Farrow tweeted, while Charlamagne Tha God added, “Jennifer Hudson be singing like the fate of the free world depends on her nailing it Everytime.”
5. Prince Tribute 2: Sheila E.
The night contained seven tributes to the musical icon in all, but Prince protege Sheila E.‘s performance was one we’ll remember for a very long time.
Giving the legend an incredible send-off, the performer (who was also Prince’s former fiancée) closed the show by performing a medley of the late musician’s hits.
She kicked off her “Purple Medley” behind the drums and performed a variety of Prince’s hits, including “Earthquake,” “Erotic City,” “Let’s Work,” “U Got the Look,” “America the Beautiful,” and “Baby I’m a Star.” She also performed her 1984 hit “The Glamorous Life,” which was written by Prince.
In a grand finale, she ended her performance by lifting her purple guitar to the air as confetti fell from the sky while she tried to hold back tears.
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