Charlie Wilson had one excited background singer and dancer supporting him: Justin Timberlake. The pop star took a back seat to the soul singer at Sunday’s BET Awards in Los Angeles, joining Wilson onstage for an energetic medley of his solo and Gap Band hits.
Stevie Wonder, Jamie Foxx, Pharrell, Snoop Dogg and India.Arie were also part of the tribute to 60-year-old Wilson, who earned the lifetime achievement award.
“Charlie Wilson is soul music. His impact colors the work of many artists, which is basically my nice way of saying I and a lot of other artists have stolen from him,” Timberlake said when presenting Wilson the award.
Wilson’s lively stage presence was arguably the night’s top moment, though others were on fire. Host Chris Tucker sang and danced, too — in tribute to Michael Jackson.
Nicki Minaj picked up her fourth consecutive win for best female hip-hop artist. Minaj, performing with Chris Brown, opened the show with a medley of new songs.
Kendrick Lamar, who performed with Badu, won best new artist and best male hip-hop artist; A$AP Rocky featuring Lamar, Drake and 2 Chainz won best collaboration for ”Problems.” Drake also won the Viewers’ Choice Award.
Don Cheadle presented Miguel with the evening’s first award — best male R&B pop artist — and dedicated the night to the ailing Nelson Mandela, saying: “We want to take a moment and send our prayers and thoughts to a man who literally changed the world. . . . We would like to offer prayers and support and hope to the extraordinary Nelson Mandela and his family.”
Mary Mary won for best gospel artist. Jamie Foxx, wearing a shirt that featured a picture of Trayvon Martin, won best actor.
Dwyane Wade, who recently won the NBA championship with the Miami Heat, received the humanitarian award. His teammate LeBron James won the sportsman of the year award; Olympic gold medalist Gabrielle Douglas won sportswoman of the year and the young stars award.