The “award show tribute performance” is a staple of statuette ceremonies, important or otherwise. After a musician of note passes away, the next few months worth of awards shows usually will feature one tightly-choreographed tribute after another, with maybe one to three tears for good measure. If the musician is big enough, like our dearly-departed Prince, than the quality of the tribute itself might come in to question, like Madonna’s ill-fated attempt at “Nothing Compares 2 U” last month at the Billboard Music Awards.
Last night, BET did things differently. Acknowledging Prince’s incredibly deep catalog, the awards show held a smattering of tributes throughout the night ranging from close associates of the man, like Sheila E, Janelle Monae and The Roots to contemporaries and fans like Stevie Wonder, Bilaal and Maxwell. No one was too overly obvious with their musical choices, either. Songs as diverse as “Housequake” and “America” got some shine among more recognizable tunes like “Let’s Go Crazy” and “Nothing Compares 2 U.” All in all, it was a continual masterclass in giving it up to someone as deeply loved and respected as Prince. For once, the award show performance wasn’t contrived and felt entirely genuine. Check out some of the performances below.