Kanye West emerged a double winner at the 2005 BET Awards last night (June 28), picking up statuettes for best male hip-hop artist and video of the year for “Jesus Walks.” The ceremony, aired live from the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, ushered in its fifth year with the first televised Fugees performance in several years plus a show-stopping turn by special honoree Gladys Knight.
Newcomer Ciara, the frontrunner with four nominations, won the best collaboration award for “1, 2 Step” featuring Missy Elliott. Fellow first-time nominee John Legend took home the best new artist trophy.
Additional music-category winners included Alicia Keys (best female R&B), Usher (best male R&B), Destiny’s Child (best group), Remy Martin (best female hip-hop), Omarion (viewers’ choice) and Donnie McClurkin (best gospel artist).
Joining lifetime achievement award winner Knight in BET’s special honoree circle were humanitarian award winners Denzel Washington and the Academy Award-winning actor’s wife Pauletta. Rounding out the ceremony, which also honors achievements in film and sports, were memorial tributes to Rick James, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, actor Ossie Davis and attorney Johnnie Cochran.
Hosting the ceremony for the first was another husband-and-wife team, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith. During the Knight salute, which featured Faith Evans and Toni Braxton, the honoree brought the house down with a riveting performance of three signature hits, including “Midnight Train to Georgia.”
In keeping with its tradition of surprise openings, BET brought together Fugees members Lauryn Hill, Wyclef Jean and Pras Michel. The trio energetically reprised several of its hits, including “Ready or Not” and “Killing Me Softly.” Among others performing were Stevie Wonder with Legend, Mariah Carey, Destiny’s Child, T.I., Mike Jones and Ciara.