The 20th anniversary of the BET Awards Show may have been virtual this year, but that did not stop the celebration, which honored Black creatives and culture.
The show largely focused on the protests currently happening across the country sparked by the deaths of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks and other Black lives ended by police officers.
For the past three years, I have had the opportunity to attended the BET Award as a media correspondent for The New Tri-State Defender. This year, of course, that did not happen.
The theme of Sunday’s (June 28) show, “Our Culture Can’t Be Canceled,” stood true and I wanted to embody that in my review of the event, so I reached out to on-air radio personality and program director for WHRK K97 Devin Steel to see if he had access to any exclusives about this year’s celebration.
“Usually I’d fly out to Los Angeles but, of course this year I’m not. BET had instead created a Virtual Radio Room for DJ’s,” said Steel. “What they did was had us all in one room on a Zoom call and produced the entire thing on Zoom.
“So, for example, they’d bring Meg Thee Stallion in (the Zoom conference) and certain people would ask questions — Big Tigger, television/radio personality and rapper best known as the host of BET’s Rap City, served as the moderator.”
On the day Steel and I conversed he was busy working with BET to keep K97 in the loop.
He had just wrapped up an interview with 12-year-old gospel singer Keedron Bryant, who kicked off the award show with his viral hit, “I Just Wanna Live.”
He also spoke with DJ D-Nice, who won the “Shine A Light” award that recognized people who used their creativity to uplift people during this difficult time.
“I really appreciate what you did with Club Quarantine,” Steel shared with D-Nice. “It sparked a lot of creativity, as I call it ‘COVID creativity,’ with a lot of DJs — and the opportunity to do live sets and play the way we want to play.
“I think that was really important and I think it’s one of the positive things to come out of creative music makers like ourselves through this whole situation.”
BET has done an incredible job over the past 20 years of highlighting our culture, music and fashions and I think this year they were still able to create that essence and address those heavy moments, such as DaBaby’s performance, evoking George Floyd’s death or Lil Wayne doing a tribute performance in Kobe Bryant’s honor.
Steel agreed, “With a concentrated effort on injustices and bringing those things to life through music and art, I think it was a powerful show, specifically in these times.”