Awards

Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis Bring Timely 'Optimistic' to the 2021 Billboard Music Awards With Sounds of Blackness and Ann Nesby

Legendary songwriter/producer duo Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis linked up with soul and gospel singers Ann Nesby and the Sounds of Blackness for a mighty performance of the early '90s hit "Optimistic" at the Billboard Music Awards on Sunday night (May 23).

Delivered as a tribute to the duo's hometown of Minneapolis, from Prince's Paisley Park, Jam and Lewis shouted out the "place that musically has always represented change to the status quo." They were then joined on stage by Nesby and the Sounds of Blackness, who performed "Optimistic" in a towering a cappella rendition, with powerful photos of recent activism (much of which has been recently centered in Minneapolis) shown on a screen behind them.

"Optimistic" hit No. 3 on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs in 1991, and also made the top 20 of the Dance Club Songs listing. Last year, Jam and Lewis collaborated with fellow do-everything R&B great Babyface for the new single "He Don't Know Nothin' Bout It," which Billboard named one of the 10 best R&B songs of 2020.

Watch the performance:

The Billboard Music Awards are produced by dick clark productions, which is owned by MRC. MRC and Penske Media are co-parent companies of Billboard.