"All of my moments are black history moments," the always stoic Cicely Tyson told BlackVoices.com during the fourth annual 'BET Honors,' which were held at Washington, D.C.'s historic Warner Theater on Jan. 15. "Every single one of them," the legendary actress furthered. "There are no two moments in my life that are not significant because it's all part of my history."
Tyson, with best pal, fashion designer B. Michael in tow, walked the red carpet in all of her diva grandeur. The three-time Emmy Award-winning star of films such as 'Roots,' 'Tyler Perry's Diary of a Mad Black Woman' and 'The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman' said she was most excited about seeing her students from her East Orange, New Jersey Performing Arts School perform alongside gospel superstar Yolanda Adams.
A few handfuls of celebrity notables and bold-faced names came out to pay homage to Tyson (who was honored with the theatrical arts award: Actor, musician and comedian Jamie Foxx; fashion icon Iman; Johnson Publishing Co. heiress Linda Johnson Rice; world-renowned musician and composer Herbie Hancock; revered historian and educator Lonnie G. Bunch; as a well-heeled crowd packed the gilded auditorium.
Hosted by actress Gabrielle Union, who –- in a nod to Diana Ross during her 'American Music Awards' hosting duties in the 1980s –- changed into numerous dazzling get-ups throughout the evening, the show featured performances and presentations by Tyler Perry, Anika Noni Rose, B. Smith, Hill Harper, Cedric the Entertainer, Jimmy Jam, Ne-Yo, Lalah Hathaway Yolanda Adams, Keyshia Cole, Guy, Tank, Angelique Kidjo, Naturally 7, Rachel Roy, Chick Corea Quartet, Boris Kodjoe and Nicole Ari Parker, among others.
Former Floetry frontwoman Marsha Ambrosius, in what appeared to be half of her former plus-size self, was one of the evening's biggest highlights: BET chieftain Debra Lee introduced the Bristish soul vocalist, who did a one-woman tribute to the late, great "soul sister" Teena Marie. No one – aside from Lauryn Hill (in her Fugees heyday) should dare touch the blue-eyed soul powerhouse's storied repertoire, but Ambrosius' take on her signature 'Portuguese Love' did Marie's legacy justice.
For the legendary supermodel Iman, she said the honor was one of the "the highest" she's received over her 30-year career. "It's nothing higher than something bestowed upon you from your own community," the Somalian beauty – who turned heads on the red carpet with her daughter Zulekha Haywood -- told us. "And to top it all off, it's for the charity work I am beyond touched."
'BET Honors,' helmed by BET programming executives Stephen Hill and Lynne Harris Taylor, will premiere Feb. 21 at 9 p.m. Proceeds from the show's private ticket sales will be given to the Washington, D.C., Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation, Inc.
Take a look at some of the scenes from the show below.
Snapshots: BET Honors 2011
(L-R) Jamie Foxx, Gabrielle Union, Iman, Linda Johnson-Rice, Cicely Tyson, Trey Songz, and Lonnie T. Bunch on stage at the 4th annual BET Honors at the Warner Theatre on January 15, 2011 in Washington, DC.
Johnny Nunez, WireImage