Last night's 2009 BET Awards were left scrambling and revamp their program to accommodate the sudden passing of the King of Pop Michael Jackson this past Thursday. It was the obvious choice to honor one of black music's biggest -- if not the biggest -- icon in history. There was speculation that some of Michael's siblings would perform, something that ultimately did not end up happening. Michael's sister Janet was on hand, however, to thank the legions of fans who have shown their support for the Jackson family in these trying times in what was her first public appearance since her brother's untimely death. The entire night was a celebration of Jackson, and it all felt very heartfelt and spirited -- the least everyone could do for an artist like Jackson who is so infinitely influential in everyone's lives.
The telecast started by replaying a video of Jackson onstage with James Brown at the 2003 BET Awards, a rather stunning sight to see both men on the same stage. That video quickly faded to New Edition -- including Bobby Brown -- performing a Jackson 5 medley including "I Want You Back" and "ABC," even doing some of the Jackson 5's more recognizable choreography.
The whole night/tribute was lead by charismatic host Jamie Foxx. He took the stage, adorned in Jackson's iconic red leather, sideways zippered jacket and black highwater pants, made famous by the video for "Beat It." He incorporated the majority of Jackson's moves in his routine, imploring the crowd to belt out some of Jackson's more familiar phrases ("ooo hoo! ta hee!") The look on the crowd's face was one of delight and joy -- the perfect way to remember Jackson's legacy.
The overwhelming sense I got from the telecast was that everyone in attendance had fond memories of Jackson, and their memories of him ultimately lead to a positive response -- one of happiness and joy in his celebrated career and remarkable artistic abilities. When Ne-Yo came out and did a remarkable version of Jackson's "The Lady In My Life," one of the telecast's highlights, it was clear to see just how big an influence Jackson has on black musicians.
His death was a sudden and unexpected turn of events in the chaotic latter part of his life, but Michael Jackson will always be remembered fondly by those of us (myself included) who were blessed to be able to enjoy his music and call it our own. BET did a class act by honoring Jackson with their 2009 Awards show program, and it was made all the more real by witnessing a joyous crowd of actors, musicians and fans who could all agree to show Michael Jackson the reverence and respect he so rightly deserved.
For more video on the event, check out BETonBLAST and click on the "BET Awards" tab.