(Editor’s Note: This piece was originally published on the site of Face2FaceAfrica. The site created a partnership with the BET Awards to cover African talent. We send our thanks to Face2FaceAfrica for sharing this coverage!)
For the first time in history, a mainstream American media outlet, BET Networks, has decided to give African artists the chance to be a part of the biggest celebration of black entertainment in America.
The BET Awards is the only award show of its kind that commemorate black entertainment as the best of the entertainment industry are recognized and awarded for their talent, achievements, and impact on the global community.
Last year, BET Networks, which launched an international division in Africa, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and the Middle East in 2008, decided that it was time to merge the international and American entertainment industries. They added a new category to the BET Awards called Best International Act, which gave nominations to some of the most talented African and UK artists.
Bombarded with feedback from the press and audience that it was unfair to stack a whole continent and a country in one category, BET decided this year that it will have two separate categories, Best International Act: Africa, and Best International Act: UK.
Some of the best African artists were nominated for theBest international Act: Africa this year, including D’Banj, 2face Idibia, D-Black, Fally Ipupa, Teargas, and Angelique Kidjo.
Tinchy Stryder, V.V. Brown, Chipmunk, Tinie Tempah, Laura Izibor, and Skepta also represented the Best International Act: UK category.
BET International granted Face2face Africa exclusive access and rights to capture the experience of the Best International Act nominees at the BET Awards and to also provide a platform where these talented artists can receive maximum exposure.
The nominees started arriving on June 23rd and were all housed at the elegant SLS Hotel, courtesy of BET International. With the exception of Angelique Kidjo who couldn’t attend the awards due to a prior commitment, all the Africa Nominees were present. For most of them, this was the moment they’ve been waiting for, as they’ve all experienced extreme difficulties jumping over the international barrier that currently exists for African artists.
Festivities kicked off on Friday, June 24th, with the social media room where the nominees granted exclusive video interviews to Face2face Africa about their careers, their nominations, and their expectations for the awards show. For D-Black, who represented Ghana, and Teargas, the sensational male group popularly known as the Kings of South African hip-hop, it was their first time in America and a dream was fulfilled as their passion for music brought them to the land of opportunity to be recognized for simply being outstanding.
All the nominees expressed their sincere gratitude to BET for being interested in Africa and giving them the platform to showcase the creativity that exists in the continent. They were all extremely proud to be representing Africa, and most importantly, humbled by the opportunity to join other talented African artists in being real ambassadors to the continent of Africa.
When asked what will happen if he doesn’t win the award, Fally Upupa, the first Congolese musician to be nominated for a BET Award, replied, “It doesn’t’ matter. As long as Africa wins, I also win.”
A special reception dinner was held in honor of the Best International Act Nominees on Friday evening, where industry people and BET executives gathered to congratulate the nominees. BET surprised the nominees with special performances from several artists including the sensational Miguel.
On Saturday, all the nominees were glammed up and interviewed individually for the BET International pre-awards special, “Music Around The Globe,” in which host April Woodard talked to the artists about their careers and their nominations. The special is scheduled to air on BET International soon.
The moment all the nominees anxiously waited for quickly arrived on Sunday afternoon as they all made their grand entrance on to the red carpet of the BET Awards for the first time ever. They all looked fantastic and tasteful in style, and made a strong statement with their choice of attire. D’banj worked the Nigerian colors, and D-black decided to go with traditional African wear, catching lots of attention on the carpet and representing his country, Ghana, to the core. They all elegantly posed for the camera and granted interviews to the press.
When the moment of truth finally arrived, D’banj and 2face both took home the award for the Best International Act: Africa category as a result of a tie. Tinie Tempah took home the award for the Best International Act: UK category.
All the nominees were truly grateful for this opportunity of a lifetime. This nomination has opened many doors for them, including possible collaboration with artists that they never would have met, otherwise.
Face2face Africa would like to say a big thank you to Michael Armstrong, the senior vice president and general manager of BET international for believing in our Africa and UK artists and giving them the platform to shine. A big thank you also to all the BET International staff, including Ava Hall, Lillian Blankson, and everyone who worked tirelessly all weekend to ensure that the nominees have a wonderful experience.
Very soon, we will all witness a emergence of African and American music, and it will be partly because of the efforts of BET Networks.
Face2face Africa has an exclusive coverage of the red carpet of the BET Awards. You do not want to miss that. Stay tuned for release date.
Click on the following link to view exclusive photos: http://face2faceafrica.com/f2f-experience/gallery/2011-bet-awards-best-international-act-nominees-in-pictures