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On Sunday night, the stars were shining at their brightest in Los Angeles’ historic Shrine Auditorium. The occasion? The 2011 BET Awards, a night of fashion, performances and honor for the best of the best in the world of Black Entertainment. The Uptown Lounge was live on the scene backstage at the uber-posh Social Media Lounge sponsored by the good people at Ford…and I, for one had a BALL. Experiencing the awards first hand for the very first time made the experience extra special for me, but the show was amazing in it’s own right.

The social media lounge was decked out with the best decor, great food from Chef Ameera (the red velvet waffles and chicken skewers were THE BOMB [dot] com), and everything a blogger could need to share content with their audience. In the three days that I was there, I got the opportunity to chat and interview a number of artists, entertainers and personalities, as well as network with other bloggers and members of the media. In the coming days, I’ll be providing you guys with exclusive content and interviews that you’ll only see here in The Uptown Lounge, including an amazing podcast featuring interviews with some of the biggest stars!

In the meantime, here are a few of the highlights:

The show opened with a powerhouse performance from the Queen of Hip Hop Soul, Mary J. Blige. After running through a couple of her classic tracks, she brought soul legend Anita Baker to the stage for a rendition of Ms. Baker’s classic “Caught Up In The Rapture Of Love”. Mary then closed her set by premiering a new track with DJ Khaled and Jadakiss aptly titled “It Ain’t Over Til It’s Over”

The audience was surprised with a performance and reunion of the Five Heartbeats and After 7. Before awarding the trophy for best group, Robert Townsend noted that the Heartbeats were celebrating their 20th anniversary.

Chris Brown was the man of the night. In addition to taking home four trophies, he also tore the stage down with a performance of a medley of songs from his most recent album F.A.M.E., including a performance of  his award winning track “Look At Me Now” with his collaborators Lil Wayne & Busta Rhymes.

One of the most anticipated performances of the evening came at the hands of Kelly Rowland. For the first time ever on television, she performed her number one hit single Motivation with a sexy, Janet Jackson-inspired routine, with a little help from a shirtless Trey Songz.

Lifetime Achievement honors went to Patti Labelle. She was celebrated with performances from Cee-Lo Green, Marsha Ambrosius, and Pastor Shirley Caesar, before taking the stage herself to prove that she still indeed had the chops and pipes that have made her a legend.

The most awkward moment of the night came when Tiffany Green, a contest winner took the stage with 106 & Park hosts Terrence J & Rocsi to announce the winner of the Viewer’s Choice competition. Tiffany read the winner from the EVO 4G tablet (which replaced traditional winner envelopes) which was Chris Brown, but then looked completely befuddled and changed the winner to Rihanna…and Drake came to accept the award. Twitter went into a frenzy, but the situation was later rectified, and it was announced that Chris Brown was indeed the winner. Tiffany later explained via Twitter that she had nothing to do with the mix up.

http://twitter.com/#!/IAmAndreaBrown/status/85185803441025025

[Excuse her language] Crazy…but she’s internet famous now, so I’m sure she doesn’t mind. 🙂

The show closed with a sattellite performance from Beyonce who was performing at the legendary Glastonbury festival in the UK. Some fans and audience members were a bit disappointed to find that Beyonce wasn’t actually live in the house…(some had already seen the performance when it aired live on USTREAM earlier in the day.) Regardless, the performance of “Til The End Of Time” was flawless.

All in all, the show was a great representation of some of the better facets of black entertainment. Kudos to the entire BET staff and all of the performers who made it a night to remember.

Here is a full list of winners:

·         Best Female R&B Artist: Rihanna

·         Best Male R&B Artist: Chris Brown

·         Best Group: Diddy-Dirty Money

·         Best Gospel Artisit: Mary Mary

·         Best Female Hip Hop Artist: Nicki Minaj

·         Best Male Hip Hop Artist: Kanye West

·         Best New Artist: Wiz Khalifa

·         Best Collaboration: Chris Brown f/ Lil Wayne and Busta Rhymes “Look At Me Now”

·         Video of the Year: Chris Brown f/ Lil Wayne and Busta Rhymes “Look At Me Now”

·         Video Director of the Year: Chris Robinson

·         Best Actress: Taraji P. Henson

·         Best Actor: Idris Elba

·         Young Stars Award: Jaden Smith and Willow Smith

·         Best Movie: For Colored Girls

·         Subway Sportwoman of the Year: Serena Williams

·         Subway Sportman of the Year: Michael Vick

·         Centric Award: Marsha Ambrosius “Far Away”

·         Best International Act: 2Face Idibia (Nigeria) and D’Banj (Nigeria)

·         Coca-Cola Viewer’s Choice Award: Chris Brown f/ Lil Wayne & Busta Rhymes – “Look at me Now”

·         Humanitarian Award: Steve Harvey

·         Lifetime Achievement Award: Patti LaBelle

Check out this slide show of personal pics I took over the weekend… and Wednesday…check out the BET Awards Edition of The Uptown Lounge Podcast!

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