Actor-singer Jamie Foxx, R&B songbird Mary J Blige, crooner Chris Brown and rapper T.I. topped their performances at the BET Awards early today by taking home trophies.
Oscar winner Foxx entered the show in Los Angeles as the top nominee with five bids and his name was called for best collaboration: with Kanye West on the megahit Gold Digger, which also won a Grammy this year.
“I want to thank everybody, just everybody,” Foxx told the Shrine Auditorium crowd.
“Y’all are stepping up black music,” West said. “This is the best music right here, and we’ve got to keep on giving it to them like that.”
Damon Wayans hosted Black Entertainment Television’s performance-packed sixth annual awards programme recognising the best in hip-hop, R&B, gospel and music videos, as well as athletes and actors.
Blige, wearing a long blond ponytail and skin-tight black bodysuit, sprinkled her song medley with rap, bringing the audience to its feet. She was chosen as best female R&B artist, while Brown captured the best new artist trophy.
T.I. won best male hip-hop artist, and he dedicated his award to everyone who has “been told they can’t do it”.
Prince, set to close the show with a song from his new album, 3121, won for male R&B artist. “This was unexpected; I appreciate it nonetheless,” he said.
Beyonce, R&B singer Keyshia Cole and Busta Rhymes turned in spirited performances.
Other winners included Missy Elliott for female hip-hop artist and Kirk Franklin for gospel artist.
“So many people owe BET a lot,” Franklin said before the show. “Every African-American who’s in music, television or film, BET has got us into this. And there’s a lot of us.”
NBA star LeBron James claimed the male athlete trophy, and Chaka Khan was lauded for lifetime achievement.
“I am so honoured to be honoured by my people,” she said. “This means everything to me.”
Harry Belafonte was also saluted with a humanitarian honour.
BET award winners were decided by a panel of executives from entertainment companies, record labels and the media, except the Viewers’ Choice award, for which fans voted online.