LOS ANGELES — Janet Jackson made a surprise appearance at the BET Awards on Sunday night on behalf of her grieving family to thank fans for their love and support following the death of brother Michael on Thursday.
"My entire family wanted to be here tonight, but it was just too painful, so they elected me to be here," she said.
She noted that the King of Pop was an icon to all in attendance, but that to the Jacksons, "he was family."
After her brief comments, Stevie Wonder, Ne-Yo and Jamie Foxx sang a poignant I'll Be There, a Jackson 5 tune.
The BET Awards became the official Michael Jackson TV celebration, including joyous tributes from a New Edition medley of Jackson 5 songs and host Foxx's tender monologue delivered in that classic red leather zipper jacket and white glove.
Already an affair of major star wattage, the night's show at the Shrine Auditorium was thrown under a white-hot spotlight in the wake of Michael Jackson's, adding attendees and guests, doubling the number of media requests, adding an extra half-hour to the telecast and even lengthening the red carpet to accommodate all who wanted to take part.
While Jackson's incredible influence stretched across genres, races and cultures, he had a unique place in the world of black entertainment. His influence is arguably most visible in urban music, seen in stars like Usher who mimic his dance moves, to Ne-Yo, whose music is marked by its Jackson-isms. But that influence went beyond music: Jackson was black America's biggest star, who broke racial barriers that allowed for so many other superstars to follow.