Legendary artists from different worlds will cross paths to set off a Black Star Power explosion at the First Annual BET Awards on June 19 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.
Amazing vocalist Whitney Houston will receive the first-ever BET Lifetime Achievement Award, hand-crafted by revered graffiti artist Carlos “MARE 139” Rodriguez. The two will meet at the Paris Las Vegas Hotel as part of BET’s live star-studded telecast recognizing la creme in music, film and sports.
“I am extremely honored to be recognized by Black Entertainment Television in this way,” said Houston about the honor. “BET is the preeminent television network among African Americans and has long been a critical outlet for Black music. It’s thrilling to be selected as their inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award recipient and I see this prestigious award as another major milestone in my career. I’m looking forward to celebrating this accomplishment with the BET family and friends in Las Vegas.”
Houston has wowed the music world in a relentless fashion. Grammy-winning and record-setting have characterized her amazing resume since her professional debut. Houston’s first album released in 1985 spun off three number one singles and initially sold more than 13 million copies, making it the best-selling debut album for a female solo artist at the time. Saving All My Love for You, a hit single from the first album, won Houston her first Grammy-award, and it was followed by five additional Grammy’s. Houston’s 1987 follow-up album was the first album by a female artist to enter the charts at Number One and she was the first artist in history to score seven consecutive Number One hits, surpassing milestones set by the Beatles and the Bee Gees.
Houston’s first film feature, The Bodyguard, banked more than $400 million and her soundtrack from the feature became the most successful soundtrack ever released, with sales in excess of 33 million units. Houston went on to co- star in other blockbuster films, such as the screen adaptation of Terry McMillan’s best-selling novel Waiting to Exhale and The Preacher’s Wife with Denzel Washington. Houston is also the head of several corporations, including Brown House Productions, Nippy, Inc. and the Whitney Houston Foundation for Children. A philanthropist at heart, Houston has made significant contributions to the United Negro College Fund, Children’s Diabetes Fund, St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital and several HIV/AIDS-related organizations. Today, 15 years after the release of her first album, Houston is still going strong, enjoying the success of her recent Greatest Hits release.
“Whitney’s many achievements in film and music over the past 15 years made her the natural choice for our inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award,” said Curtis Gadson, senior vice president of entertainment programming and network operations. “Her voice is incomparable and she broke ceilings for female artists that many never imagined were possible. In only 15 years, Whitney has accomplished a lifetime worth of achievements.”
Houston will be honored by a tribute led by popular artists Christina Aguilera and Luther Vandross during the award ceremony.
In addition to recognizing Houston as the Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, others will be recognized in several categories. They include Best Male Group, Best Female Group, Best Male R&B Artist, Best Female R&B Artist, Best Male Hip-Hop Artist, Best Female Hip-Hop Artist, Best New Artist, Best Gospel Artist, Video of the Year, Best Actor in a Film, Best Actress in a Film, Male Athlete of the Year, Female Athlete of the Year and Viewer’s Choice.
All award winners will receive a unique and beautiful BET award sculpture, which will remain under wraps until the Awards Show. The fluid style of the award sculpture was conceived of and designed by Carlos “MARE 139” Rodriguez. Designed to resemble a three-dimensional shooting star, the award is fashioned from marble and highly-burnished steel to embody aspiration, ascension, achievement, black star power and progress. It incorporates BET’s signature colors black and platinum.
Rodriguez is founder and president of Mirame Media Group, Incorporated, a consulting, design and development studio for internet and multimedia solutions. Rodriguez’s roots are in the very early years of hip-hop culture in the South Bronx. Since 1976, he has participated and expanded the methodology of expressing and educating artists and people about Urban Culture. He is regarded as a pioneer and the preeminent sculptor of his generation for transforming Wild Style subway art into sculptural objects. Since 1985, his sculptures have been exhibited and collected for their uniqueness and importance to the culture.
His approach to the BET award was inspired by a new concept called “transitism” which deals with the intellectual interpretation of Wild Style art, movement, form and light. “Elements of Transitism were utilized in the creation of BET’s award,” said Rodriguez. “I wanted the award to elude to excellence, understating a rise above diversity. The intersecting star powers represent will and force.”
The inaugural BET award pre-show and ceremony will be televised live on June 19, 2001 at 8:30 p.m. ET. As part of its special Black Music Month programming, BET will televise encore presentations of the BET Awards Pre-Show from 7:30 – 8 p.m. ET/PT and the BET Awards Special from 8 – 10 p.m. ET/PT on Tuesday, June 26; and the BET Awards Special on Saturday, June 30, from 9 – 11 p.m. ET/PT.