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Patti LaBelle Fumbles Lyrics During Tina Turner Tribute At BET Awards

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The world is still mourning the passing of Tina Turner, who died on May 24 at the age of 83, leaving behind an impactful musical legacy and inspirational life story. A month later, tributes continue to pour out, including one by R&B singer Patti LaBelle, 79, who performed a powerful rendition of Turner’s “(Simply) the Best” at the BET Awards on Sunday.

Turner’s “The Best” was released in 1989 and hearing it again immediately got audience members excited. Attendees leapt to their feet, encouraged by the high energy of LaBelle’s performance. However, audiences were treated to some additional antics during the song, as at multiple points, the music plowed ahead while LaBelle fell behind, apparently forgetting the lyrics. She offered an explanation.

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Patti LaBelle pays tribute to Tina Turner

Patti LaBelle performed a tribute to Tina Turner at the 2023 BET Awards / Twitter video screenshot

Located at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles the 2023 BET Awards celebrate Black entertainers in film, television, music, philanthropy, sports, and other related fields. The annual event aired its In Memoriam segment on Sunday, mourning the deaths of Jacky Oh, Franco Harris, Harry Belafonte, and others. After, Patti LaBelle took to the stage to celebrate Tina Turner.

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RELATED: Billy Joel Honors Tina Turner In Headline Concerts Alongside Stevie Nicks

“LaBelle will honor the incomparable Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll, showcasing her incredible talent and capturing the essence of Turner’s unparalleled legacy in a performance that promises to be nothing short of extraordinary,” BET announced back on June 23. The performance ended up quite memorable for several reasons and has given fans of both artists a lot to talk about.

A memorable performance

VH1 DIVAS LIVE 2, Tina Turner, 1999 TV Special. ph: Marc Bryan Brown / ©VH1 / Courtesy Everett Collection

LaBelle began to sing “The Best,” though appeared to forget some of the lyrics as the music continued and they fell out of sync. The error became so noticeable that LaBelle addressed it – while still on stage performing.

“I’m trying, y’all,” she assured. She resumed singing, matching up with the background vocals. However, the incident soon repeated itself, with the lyrics in the back moving ahead without her. This time, LaBelle comforted audiences in a slightly different way. “Whatever, I can’t see the words,” she riffed, “I don’t know. I don’t know. I’m trying y’all.” The camera showed the audience members looking amused by this creative correction. Online, some fans supported LaBelle, noting her age and that it’s difficult for anyone to fully remember songs, even ones they sing every day, while others believe Turner deserved better. What do you think?

LaBelle considers Turner simply the best / Allister Foster / ©Hallmark Channel / Courtesy Everett Collection

LaBelle went on to perform the rest of the song with abundant zeal, dancing and singing perfectly.

“Tina was a trailblazer and someone I have a tremendous amount of respect for because of all that she overcame and all that she accomplished,” LaBelle once said to Rolling Stone. “She was and is everything! And I am honored that I am able to pay tribute to her in this way.”

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