Black History: 2014 BET Honors

By on February 21, 2014

1888807_10151850833927035_1440987561_oBy Eden Duncan-Smith

One of the great things about being an actress is that sometimes, I am able to attend events that are simply AMAZING. While so many of my friends where checking out what was new at the movies or trying to catch up on the latest episodes of ‘The Fosters’ on ABC Family, me and my mom were able to go to the BET Honors.

The BET Honors were established in 2008 by the Black Entertainment Television network to grace the lives and achievements of African-American luminaries. The awards are presented annually and broadcast on BET during Black History Month. This year, the 7th annual event saluted Aretha Franklin, Berry Gordy, Jr., Ice Cube, the late Nelson Mandela, Kenneth Chenault and Carrie Mae Weems for their revolutionary contributions in their respective fields.

Tamar Braxton gave tribute to Berry Gordy by performing two of Diana Ross songs. She sang the theme from one of the most fantastical movies ever, “Mahogany: Do You Know Where You’re Going To” and the classic disco hit “Upside Down.” She was all in her diva mode, but just could not snatch the title from Ms. Mariah Carey who shut it down with her new single. When I say that Ms. Carey blew up the spot, I am mean she went “KABOOM” on the audience by not only singing immaculately but looking stunning in her black low cut gown while being stretched out on a baby grand piano.  Jennifer Hudson also had a great set. She gave the tribute to Aretha Franklin and when I said she made everyone get out of their seats and jam, I mean it.  The other tribute to the Queen of Soul was done by Karen Clarke Sheard who took us to church with a spectacular rendition of “Amazing Grace”.  As a preacher’s kid, I think I know what good church music is… and this… well I think I saw Jesus sitting on the top of the balcony waving his hands to glory!

Aretha Franklin’s son rapped and her grand daughter sang…

Getting back to the Berry Gordy and the Motown tributes, my mom and I believe that the two top performances of the night go to Smokey Robinson and Janelle Monae. Smokey sang this song called “Tracks of My Tears” and Janelle Monae did a Jackson 5 melody. Okay, let me talk about the Queen of Pop Funk. She is everything to me. She is out of the box. She is the best and one day, I want to meet her and tell her I love her so much. She is a dancer’s dancer and can sing too. She sings from her gut. She puts it all out there and so her being picked to do the Michael Jackson set was a perfect fit in my opinion. Needless to say, I believe that Janelle Monae stole the show.

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Wayne Brady was the host. He was so funny and more talented than I think I thought he was. He can freestyle and most of all he could sing too.

Ice Cube was being honored and so was Carrie Mae Weems. I was moved by how they used unconventional art to talk about urban life. I live in Brooklyn and everyday, I have to see beauty in what other people may think is ugly. But it is there. It was nice that they were honored for doing the same thing.

Kenneth Chenault, the first African American to be the CEO of American Express, said that “You can make it on what you control and what you control is your performance!” I think that is something to live by. There are so many things that are beyond your ability to control, but if you focus on you — get your stuff together — you can really move a mountain.

Just like Madiba Mandela. He focused on his drop in the bucket of life and changed the entire culture of South Africa. That is how the BET Honors ended, with a tribute to Madiba aka Nelson Mandela. And guess who did that tribute? Aretha Franklin herself! I am now able to say that I was able to hear some of the most amazing singers to ever grace the planet.

Black History month is so much more than reading about the works of people dead and gone, but celebrating those who are still moving and shaking. And I believe… one day… I will right there with the history makers changing the world one day at a time.

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