Jamie Foxx, Ne-Yo Close BET Awards With Moving ‘I’ll Be There’

Gospel-inflected version of song follows Janet Jackson's tribute to brother Michael.

With [artist id="1102"]Michael Jackson’s[/artist] death occurring just three days before Sunday’s BET Awards , the show was quickly overhauled to be a tribute to the legendary entertainer. And while most awards shows conclude with a rousing finale, this one concluded quietly, with a touching speech from Michael’s sister Janet and a soft, gospel-inflected performance of the Jackson 5′s 1970 hit “I’ll Be There” by [artist id="2002414"]Ne-Yo[/artist] and show host [artist id="7590"]Jamie Foxx[/artist].

While the evening began with New Edition romping through a stirring medley of the Jackson 5′s more upbeat hits, the gentle version of “I’ll Be There” made for a somber, dignified follow to Janet’s brief comments.

“To you, Michael is an icon, to us, Michael is family and he will forever live in all of our hearts,” she said. “On behalf of my family and myself, thank you for all of your love, thank you for all of your support. We miss him so much, thank you so much,” she said while tearing up.

“I’ll Be There,” the Jackson 5′s biggest hit, was a #1 single upon its original release in 1970 and again when covered by [artist id="976"]Mariah Carey[/artist] for “MTV Unplugged” in 1992. Motown founder Berry Gordy felt the ballad was a calculated risk — a notable departure from the group’s uptempo earlier hits — and he co-wrote and co-produced it with Bob West, Hal Davis, and Willie Hutch. On the original, Michael shared the lead vocal with brother Jermaine; on Carey’s version, Trey Lorenz sings Jermaine’s lines. The song has also been covered by New Kids on the Block, Leona Lewis (on the British “X Factor” show) and on both “American Idol” and “Britain’s Got Talent,” among many other versions.

The song was also the Jacksons’ last #1 single, although Michael was to enjoy many more during his solo career.

For complete coverage of the life, career and passing of the legendary entertainer, visit “Michael Jackson Remembered.”

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