An array of black artists performed their hits, repped their cities, and provided the world with much-needed entertainment Wednesday night during the “Saving Our Selves: A BET COVID-19 Relief Effort.” In addition to delivering virtual performances and short skits, the two-hour special surpassed BET Network’s initial fundraising goal of $10 million, raising over $16 million towards African American communities impacted by the coronavirus.
The special, which aired on BET and BET Her and was streamed on Facebook, Tidal, and BET.com, comes as the global coronavirus pandemic wreaks havoc across the nation, especially in black and brown communities. It was co-hosted by Anthony Anderson, Kelly Rowland, Terrence J, and Regina Hall, who each emceed from the comfort of their homes.
Highlights of the evening included Alicia Keys, who dedicated “New York State of Mind” to New York City, featuring appearances from Whoopi Goldberg, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Queen Latifah, Fat Joe, and Remy Ma. Ludacris and Jermaine Dupri performed “Welcome to Atlanta,” while John Legend performed his new single “Bigger Love” in an afro wig accompanied by dancers in a “Soul Train” style theme. Anthony Hamilton performed “Lean on Me” and Kirk Franklin encouraged viewers with a rendition of this song “I Smile,” featuring Fantasia, Tyrese Gibson, Kelly Price, and others. Usher, Ella Mai, Chloe X Halle, and rapper Swae Lee also delivered virtual performances. Outside of the musical performances, Tiffany Haddish and the very pregnant Ciara delivered a hilarious dance battle while Kevin Hart and a number of other celebrities made appearances throughout the night.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the way our audience, leaders in our community and our business partners have stepped up to address the devastating impact of COVID-19 on African Americans,” said Scott Mills, president of BET, in a statement. “I am forever grateful to the talent and production team who pulled off that extraordinary show from home! We will continue this work, and we will continue to raise funds to assist those that need it most.”
Funds will support over 50 organizations across the nation providing emergency resources directly to the African Americans hardest hit by COVID-19. Presented in partnership with United Way Worldwide, the BET Covid-19 Relief Fund received generous grants from Blue Meridian Partners, the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, and The Ford Foundation. Corporate donations included Facebook, Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Toyota, Salesforce, McDonald’s, AmEx, AARP, and JP Morgan Chase’s Advancing Black Pathways initiative.
“We are proud to have partnered with BET on such a successful program event, and we are encouraged by the tremendous outpouring of support we have seen from individuals and major corporations to the BET COVID-19 Relief Fund,” said Stan Little, Chief Experience Officer for United Way Worldwide. “We look forward to working with BET to not only provide immediate relief, but to build stronger and more resilient communities.”
Watch “Saving Our Selves: BET COVID-19 Relief Effort” below.