This year’s BET honorees included legendary actress Cicely Tyson, left, and supermodel Iman, right, along with Academy award-winning actor and musician Jamie Foxx, publishing mogul Linda Johnson Rice, renowned musician and composer Herbie Hancock and historian Lonnie G. Bunch, III. Photos courtesy of Dorothy Tene' Redmond
For the fourth year in a row Black Entertainment Television (BET) brought glitz and glamour to the nation’s capital to honor individuals in the arts and ordinary people who make extraordinary contributions.
Gabrielle Union returned for a third year and a record number of dress changes -- 10 to be exact—as host of the evening event at the Warner Theatre in Northwest on Sat. Jan. 15. This year’s honorees included legendary actress Cicely Tyson, Academy award-winning actor and musician Jamie Foxx, supermodel Iman, publishing mogul Linda Johnson Rice, renowned musician and composer Herbie Hancock and historian Lonnie G. Bunch, III.
Iman who arrived on the red carpet with her daughter Zulekha Haywood donned a stunning peach-colored J. Mendel pleated dress. The svelte businesswoman and activist appeared thrilled to be in the company of so many luminaries.
“I feel so very honored to be acknowledged along with so many wonderful people like Cicely Tyson and Herbie Hancock; it is such an amazing night,” she said.
Bunch, the director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, said that the night seemed surreal as he made his way past photographers.
“This is my first red carpet; I still can’t believe I’m here. I feel so much more comfortable in a library; this will take a little getting used to,” he said with a smile.
Even the celebrity status of Tyler Perry, Cedric the Entertainer, Anika Noni Rose, Hill Harper, and Jimmy Jam who served as presenters for the evening didn’t prevent some of them from being somewhat star struck.
“It is such a privilege to honor someone like Herbie Hancock who paved the way for my career to be a possibility. I’m really looking forward to seeing him tonight,” said [Jimmy] Jam, an award-winning music producer.
Harper echoed his sentiments.
“It is exciting to see an educator like Lonnie Bunch being recognized in a time or nation where education often takes a back seat to entertainment in the eyes of the youth. He is a modern day griot and this honor is well deserved.”
Along with the honorees, the event featured a star-studded lineup of performances by Trey Songz, Ne-Yo, Lalah Hathaway, Yolanda Adams, Keyshia Cole, Guy, Tank, Angelique Kidjo, Naturally 7, the Chick Corea Quartet and the Cicely L. Tyson Concert Choir. But it was Marsha Ambroise’s touching tribute to the late Teena Marie that set the night abuzz. Marie, an R&B singer-songwriter, died in December.
The honorees were selected by a panel that included Stephen Hill, president of Music Programming and Specials, BET Networks, and Lynne Harris Taylor, vice president of Specials, BET Networks who also served as executive producers, along with John Cossette of John Cossette Productions for the event.
“Each year we have a round table and suggestions are made on who to honor. We take input from everyone; however we try to focus on those untold stories, the little known accomplishments of everyday people as well as celebrities,” Hill said.
Proceeds from this year’s BET Honors private ticket sales will be given to the Washington, D.C. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation, Inc.
The BET Honors will air during Black History Month on Mon., Feb. 21 at 9 p.m. Please visit www.bet.com
for more information.