Stevie Wonder Joins BET Awards Prince Tribute as Network Also Plans Salute to Muhammad Ali

Stevie Wonder
Austin Hargrave

Stevie Wonder photographed by Austin Hargrave at Bottle Rock Napa Valley Music Festival on May 27, 2016.

At Wednesday night’s PRE, the annual kickoff to the BET Awards, host and BET chairman/CEO Debra Lee teased that the June 26 awards show will be a can’t-miss affair. “Trust me,” she said to invitees from the rooftop of the London Hotel in West Hollywood. “We can’t tell you everything, but this is going to be a tremendous show. Like Prince said, ‘Let’s go crazy’ -- and we will be doing that on Sunday night. We will also be doing a tribute to Muhammad Ali.”

On Thursday morning (June 23), BET revealed that Stevie Wonder is the latest addition to the Prince tribute, which features Sheila E., D'Angelo, The Roots and Janelle Monae. Wonder also joined Madonna at the Billboard Music Awards last month to pay tribute to Prince. A new group of performers for the show was also announced: Erykah Badu, Jennifer Hudson, Fat Joe, Remy Ma, French Montana, Young Thug, Bilal, Tori Kelly and emerging duo Chloe x Halle, who are signed to Beyonce’s Parkwood label. The latter act also begs the question: Might there be another big surprise in store on Sunday’s show?

Taraji P. Henson & Jussie Smollett Join BET Awards as Presenters

At Wednesday night's event, Kelly Rowland, actress Holly Robinson, singers Luke James and Estelle, rap icon MC Lyte, legendary Motown executive Suzanne de Passe and 2016 BET Awards hosts Tracee Ellis Ross and Anthony Anderson were among the music and entertainment celebs on hand for the invite-only celebration.

Alberto Rodriguez/BET/Getty Images for BET
Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross attend Debra Lee's PRE kicking off the 2016 BET Awards on June 22, 2016 in Los Angeles.

Rising R&B singer/songwriter Ro James performed two tracks from his debut album El Dorado: the single “Permission” and “Burn Slow.” Also holding court musically during the evening were DJ Kiss and DJ D-Nice.

Alberto Rodriguez/BET/Getty Images for BET
BET CEO and Chairman Debra L. Lee, Keith Powers, Kelly Rowland and Luke James attend Debra Lee's PRE kicking off the 2016 BET Awards on June 22, 2016 in Los Angeles.