On Sunday night at the end of the BET Awards, Janet Jackson spoke publicly for the first time about the death of her beloved older brother, Michael.
Clad all in white, a visibly distraught Janet remained strong as she fought back tears while addressing the audience.
wanted to be here tonight, but it was too painful," she told the crowd — including her father Joe Jackson — which cheered and stood on its feet. She then said her comments would be brief.
"To you, Michael is an icon," Janet said. "To us, Michael is family. He will forever live in all of our hearts.
"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 teared up toward the end of her comments.
Janet's thoughts led into a profound, almost gospel performance of "I'll Be There" by show host Jamie Foxx and Ne-Yo. The song — one of the Jackson 5's biggest hits — was a #1 hit single upon its original release in 1970 and again when covered by Mariah Carey for "MTV Unplugged" in 1992. On Sunday night, it was rendered quietly, with the duo accompanied only by a pianist. The performance was a strikingly different way to end an awards show, which usually conclude with big, rousing finales. It gave the show a dignified ending that perfectly suited the nature of the Jackson tribute.
During the BET aftershow telecast, when asked how he felt, Ne-Yo said: "I feel good, man. It's a sad day for music, but I've been telling people we should be celebrating his life, not mourning his death."
For complete coverage of the life, career and passing of the legendary entertainer, visit "Michael Jackson Remembered."
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