The show didn’t waste any time, kicking off the proceedings with a 10-minute tribute that brought the packed crowd at Los Angeles’ Shrine Auditorium to their feet, immediately establishing the show as a sort of wake for the fallen singer.
The show opened with a clip of Jackson’s appearance on the 2003 BET Awards, where he performed with James Brown. It was a melancholy but inspiring introduction to the proceedings. The audience was then treated to a stunning performance by New Edition, who performed a medley of Jackson 5 hits. The iconic R&B group, led by Bobby Brown, sang and danced their way through classics like “ABC” and “The Love You Save.”
Following New Edition’s performance, host Jamie Foxx walked on stage dressed like vintage Jackson: The Thriller-era red leather jacket and a single sparkling sequined glove. Foxx greeted the audience and immediately launched into a performance of “Beat It.” Foxx, who has plenty of experience mimicking R&B icons, ran through the classic Jackson tune with aplomb, never missing a note.
After the ovation, Foxx told the audience that the show would be festive. “No need to be sad,” he told the audience. “We want to celebrate this black man. He belongs to us and we shared him with everyone else.” Foxx kept it light, poking fun at Jackson’s nose and the change in his skin tone over the years. “Michael was all kinds of black. He was Wesley Snipes and Chico DeBarge at the same time.”
Hats off to Michael!
All of our Michael Jackson coverage can be found here.
Gallery Info: Jamie Foxx and New Edition perform at the 2009 BET Awards