Music can be one of the world’s natural healers. On Wednesday night (April 22), a slew of artists used their platforms to give back when taking part in BET’s Saving Our Selves: A BET COVID-19 Relief Effort special, which was hosted by Anthony Anderson, Kelly Rowland, Terrence J and Regina Hall.
From the comfort of their homes, artists such as Alicia Keys — who paid special tribute to NYC — John Legend, Usher, Jermaine Dupri, Ella Mai, Jhene Aiko, Chloe X Halle, H.E.R., Ludacris, Swae Lee, and more all stepped up to provide a welcomed distraction for fans with an array of unique performances.
With the novel coronavirus impacting people from the black and brown communities at an alarming rate, BET partnered with the United Way to create a relief fund that will take financial donations and spread them around to local charities in need across the United States.
In case you missed the two-hour broadcast, here are some of our favorite moments from the night of educational entertainment, which saw artists getting creative amid the tragic circumstances. Visit the BET website for more information and join the conversation on Twitter via #BETCovidRelief.
7. Kirk Franklin takes us to church
With Americans unable to attend their weekly religious sermons, Kirk Franklin did his best to bring service straight into your bedroom. The gospel luminary called on Fantasia, Jonathan McReynolds, Kelly Price, Tasha Cobbs, Le’Andria Johnson, Melvin Crispell III and got an assist from a dapper Tyrese to help power the heavenly performance to Franklin’s 2011 “I Smile.”
6. Pregnancy can’t stop Cici
For a special edition of Club Quarantine, DJ D-Nice orchestrates a dance battle between Ciara and comedian-actress Tiffany Haddish. It’s a very daunting task for Haddish to take on Cici at her own game. As the Grammy-winning supermom showed, even mid-way through her pregnancy, she’s still got the crisp moves down pat while dancing to her 2018 single “Level Up.”
5. Lil Wayne delivers an inspiring message
Weezy F. Baby took a break from skating at his indoor park to give those fighting the coronavirus pandemic on the front lines a few uplifting words. “This is for all my people watching in New Orleans and Louisiana. I know you’re at home suffering from these wild times, but we’re strong. We’ve been through it all and seen it all. We’re going to get through this as well,” he said. “Prayers to the families of those who are dealing with this disease. Much love to the health care workers out there — the real heroes and iconic figures — and to those we’ve lost to this disease. Rest in peace, DJ Black N Mild.
4. Usher, Ella Mai & Jermaine Dupri start the dance party
Usher threw on his slippers and turned his living room into a makeshift dance floor. Rocking his matching floral pajamas, the R&B legend grooved to the smooth instrumental to his recent “Don’t Waste My Time” collaboration with British singer Ella Mai. Usher’s sons helped their dad out, and the video-editing team worked overtime adding special patterns and effects to jazz up the performance. JD came through to introduce a new dance known as “The Sauce,” which looks like more of a “Toosie Slide” knockoff.
3. Anthony Hamilton pays homage to Bill Withers
Anthony Hamilton gave a tip of the cap to the late Bill Withers, who passed away last month, by covering the legendary singer-songwriter’s Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 “Lean On Me.” The scene then flipped through various artists who have made donations or given back to the public since the COVID-19 outbreak began, as we could all use somebody to lean on right now.
2. Uncle Charlie owns the cookout
Charlie Wilson shined as a fitting close to the benefit program. Uncle Charlie took us on a tour of his mansion, which boasts some impressive outdoor decor. The 67-year-old ran through a soulful medley that included vintage throwbacks such as the romantic “Forever Valentine,” “I’m Blessed” and The Gap Band’s “Outstanding.” For the latter, Charlie switched some final lyrics around to leave viewers with an inspirational sendoff: “We’re gonna knock this virus out,” he proclaims.
1. Alicia Keys is New York strong
With NYC being at the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, Alicia Keys hopped on the piano and dedicated a special rendition of Hov’s “Empire State of Mind” to her city. The moving tribute included fellow New Yorkers to chime in with a few words about their Big Apple roots throughout the anthem, from the likes of Remy Ma, Papoose, DJ Premier, Queen Latifah, MC Lyte, and P. Diddy, who shows off the range in his vocal cords.