After the death of Michael Jackson, BET re-organized most of the 2009 award ceremony, to commemorate the artist’s life. The show aired on Sunday June 28, 2009 (8:00 p.m. EST, 7:00 p.m. CT). According to Deborah Lee the show was revised within three days. Several artists changed their original planned routine to sing many of Michael Jackson’s songs, including songs he sang as a member of The Jackson Five as well as songs in his solo career.
His father, Joseph Jackson, and former confidant, Reverend Al Sharpton were present as audience members throughout the show. Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson’s sister made an appearence at the finale of the show, and spoke briefly on behalf of the Jackson family. Host Jamie Foxx stated “We want to celebrate this black man. He belongs to us and we shared him with everybody else.”
Oscar winning actor and Grammy winning R&B singer Jamie Foxx, host of the live telecast, setthe tone at the start of the program: “”No need to be sad — we want to celebrate this black man. He belongs to us and we shared him with everybody else. … It didn’t make a difference what he looked like. It matters what he sounded like.”
After an evening featuring a number of performances covering the music of Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5, including a Jamie Foxx Moonwalk and a rendition of signature hits ABC, The Love You Save, and I Want You Back performed by New Edition, the emotionally shaken singer took to the stage, with host Foxx accompanying her. Dressed impeccably in white, face full of sadness and pain, the singer delivered her remarks.
The Janet Jackson BET Awards 2009 video reveals the singer telling the audience: “My entire family wanted to be here tonight, but it was just too painful. To you, Michael is an icon. To us, Michael is family and he will forever live in all of our hearts…Thank you for all of your support. We miss him so much.”
Prior performances at the 2009 BET Awards included a mixture of tribute performances and performances of artists’ own hits: Beyonce, Ne-Yo, Kanye West, Queen Latifah, and Keri Hilson, Maxwell, Fabolous, Soulja Boy, Keyshia Cole and Mary Mary among others, as the various performers and presenters and winners offered words about the legendary King of Pop and how he had inspired them.