Charlie Wilson had one excited background singer and dancer supporting him: Justin Timberlake.
The pop star took a backseat to the soul singer at Sunday’s BET Awards, joining Wilson onstage for an energetic medley of his solo and Gap Band hits.
Stevie Wonder, Jamie Foxx, Pharrell, Snoop Dogg and India.Arie were also part of the tribute to 60-year-old Wilson, who earned the lifetime achievement award.
“Charlie Wilson is soul music. His impact colors the work of many artists, which is basically my nice way of saying I and a lot of other artists have stolen from him,” Timberlake said when presenting Wilson the award.
Wilson’s lively stage presence was the arguably the night’s top moment, though others were on fire.
Nicki Minaj picked up her fourth consecutive win for best female hip-hop artist.
“Every time I win, it’s a humbling experience,” she said. “My fans are amazing people.”
Minaj performed with Chris Brown, who opened the awards show with a medley of new songs. BET couldn’t bleep some of the rapper’s expletives – much like the awards show last year. Expletives from Wayne Brady, Erykah Badu and the singers who performed with R. Kelly slipped, too.
Mariah Carey was angelic as she belted her latest hit, “#Beautiful,” with help from Miguel and Young Jeezy, and an excited R. Kelly sang snippets of a dozen of his hits. An energetic Robin Thicke was joined by Pharrell and T.I. when he sang his international No. 1 hit, “Blurred Lines.”
Host Chris Tucker sang and danced, too – in tribute to Michael Jackson.
Miguel won the night’s first award, best male R&B pop artist, beating out Brown, Usher, Justin Timberlake and Bruno Mars.
“We want to take a moment and send our prayers and thoughts to a man who literally changed the world,” he said. “This evening we would like to offer prayers and support and hope to the extraordinary Nelson Mandela and his family.”
Jamie Foxx, wearing a Trayvon Martin T-shirt, won best actor, and Olympic gold medalist Gabrielle Douglas won sportswoman of the year and the young stars award.
Kendrick Lamar, who performed with Badu, won best new artist and best male hip-hop artist.
His own hits – “Started from the Bottom” and “HYFR” – were up for the top prize, as well as his guest appearances on 2 Chainz’s “No Lie,” A$AP Rocky’s “(Expletive) Problems” and Lamar’s “Poetic Justice.” Other video of the year nominees are Justin Timberlake’s “Suit & Tie,” Rihanna’s “Diamonds,” “Adorn” by Miguel, Kanye West’s “Mercy” and “Thrift Shop” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.
Timberlake, Drake, Lamar, Rocky, Miguel and Rihanna will compete for the fan-voted viewer’s choice award. Dwyane Wade, who recently won the NBA Finals with the Miami Heat, will receive the humanitarian award.