The week before Viola Davis became the first black woman to win an Oscar, Tony, and Emmy after winning Best Supporting Actress for her role in Paramount’s Fences at the 89th annual Academy Awards, BET held a special ceremony dedicated to black entertainment.
BET Presents the American Black Film Festival Honors. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
Who brought music industry legends Joni Mitchell, Clive Davis, Neil Diamond, Quincy Jones, Britney Spears, Stevie Wonder, Russell Simmons; rising stars such as Chance the Rapper and Lorde; Apple CEO Tim Cook; Olympic Gold Medalist Gabby Douglas; and a slew of Kardashians to the Beverly Hilton on Saturday, Feb. 11?
BET CEO Debra L. Lee.
BEVERLY HILLS, CA – FEBRUARY 12: (L-R) Debra Lee and Stephen Hill attend BET’s Pre-Grammy Brunch at The Four Seasons Hotel on February 12, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Earl Gibson III/Getty Images for BET)
With a flourish of pride and patriotism, BET celebrated Barack Obama’s eight-year run as president with an emotional send-off on his last day in office. Through the Fire: The Legacy of Barack Obama followed a month-long series of BET documentaries and specials honoring the first couple and their many achievements.
On April 26, 1964, Nelson Mandela addressed the court in Rivona, South Africa.
“I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination,” said Nelson Mandela. “I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
New Edition exploded out of anonymity from the Orchard Park Projects in Roxbury, Massachusetts in the early 1980s, selling millions of albums as the stamped the template for the boy band super-groups of the ‘90s and beyond. At one time, they were bigger than Beat It, when their 1983 debut track Candy Girlbeat out one of Michael Jackson’s signature hits for the top spot on the Billboard chart. In the meteoric and fraught years that followed, they would break up and reunite while spawning the solo careers of Bobby Brown, Ralph Tresvant and Johnny Gill, along with the quadruple platinum collaboration of Bell Biv DeVoe.
The tale resonated in part due to its raw, unfiltered nature, delivering the uncensored drama of the exhilarating climb to success, the infighting that led to break-ups and reunions, the wild back-stage mingling amid groupies and substances, and the financial collapses that defied their spotlight. This scene depicting the group members’ mothers’ rage at receiving a check for $1.87 after a sprawling and highly successful tour is typical:
“Normally biopics are padded with dramatic falsehoods for entertainment,” wrote Billboard’s Niki McGloster, “but as the executive producers of the film, New Edition kept the story true to how they lived it.”
BET loves President Obama. It’s not hard to see why. For eight years, the president has worked deliberately to help those who had long been overlooked, overseeing the legalization of same-sex marriage, overall economic expansion, the re-establishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba, and more.
To emphasize the point, the net recently put together this list of seven things they most appreciate about the soon-to-be-former president’s work:
The president has taken time to speak directly to BET viewers, most memorably in the wake of the killing of Michael Brown and other unarmed black men by police across the country, when he sat down with BET News’ Jeff Johnson to discuss the importance of peaceful protest to the health and evolution of our nation. Click the image below to watch the full interview:
As much as Obama has driven change in national policy and added gravity to essential conversations on race and justice, he has also committed considerable energy to emphasizing the importance that sports and the arts play in American culture. Never has his dedication to the musical arts been more apparent than with BET’s farewell flourish to the president, BET Presents Love & Happiness: An Obama Celebration, which will air on Tuesday, Nov. 15 at 9 p.m. ET.
The event, which the network hosted at the White House in October, features performances by Usher, Common, Janelle Monae, Leslie Odom Jr., The Roots, De La Soul, Jill Scott, Yolanda Adams, Bell Biv DeVoe, Michelle Williams and Kiki Sheard. Samuel L. Jackson, Angela Bassett, Bradley Cooper and Jesse Williams attended, reminiscing about Obama’s legacy.
Obama, whose reputation for comedic timing is legendary, seized a moment to re-dub the event “Barack Obama’s Block Party”:
This is one of a series of musical evenings the Obamas have hosted over their eight years in the White House, which have featured performers as diverse as Bob Dylan and Jennifer Hudson, carrying on a tradition of performance that stretches back to the administration of John Adams in 1801. Obama underscored the importance of elevating the country’s rich musical heritage to such a prominent stage in the nation’s capital.
The annual BET Hip Hop Awards celebrates and showcases the year’s best in hip-hop culture, and 2016 was no exception. From Atlanta’s Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, the awards dished out memorable honors and performances by some of the biggest names in the industry. This year’s Hip Hop Awards, hosted by major key himself DJ Khaled, left us wanting “another one.”
Why? Check out some highlights below, then watch the rest here.
Let’s Get Things Moving
Take notes – this is how to open a show in style. Gucci Mane performed from his ninth studio album, Everybody Looking, alongside producer Zaytoven. Joined later on stage by Young Thug, Travis Scott and Migos Quavo, the artists set the stage for the Hip Hop Awards, teaming up to perform Pick Up the Phone. Watch it here.
Courtney McNulty, Viacom’s coordinator for intellectual property and litigation at our Santa Monica office, is the latest winner in the series of employee lotteries for Viacom awards shows. She attended the BET Awards on Sunday, June 26 in her hometown of Los Angeles.
Our employee lottery winner, Courtney McNulty, outside of the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles with her friend, Rihanna Lane.
So far, our winners have seen some of the most radical ceremonies in Viacom history. Our first winner, Shannon Griffith, won a trip to Nashville for the CMT awards. The CMT Awards showcased its innovative, eclectic genre and proved rap and country can merge harmoniously.
Our next winner, Joseph Stephan, witnessed the magic that was Logo’s Trailblazer Honors. Logo’s Trailblazer Honors came at a crucial moment for the LGBT community. It provided a safe haven for its dedicated fan base after the devastating attack in Orlando, and memorialized those lost in the senseless act of violence and hate.
Like the Trailblazer Honors, The BET Awards is a fundamental space for the black community to unite against oppression and forge a new standard for equality. In this year’s ceremony, Jesse Williams demanded civil rights in a riveting speech that went viral. The show featured an array of talent delivering heartfelt Prince tributes. Beyoncé literally flooded the stage with her performance of Freedom.
I chatted with McNulty about the experience of living these moments.
On June 26, the stage of the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles flooded with water as Beyoncé belted out the vocals to Freedom. Kendrick Lamar joined the singer mid-way through the performance, emerging from a cloud of red fog. The duo stomped and splashed as fiery smoke billowed into the rafters.
Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar perform at the BET Awards. Photo courtesy of Getty.