The legendary vocalist paid homage to her dear friend, the Queen of Rock and Roll, who died on May 24 from natural causes. In the midst of singing Turner’s hit song “The Best,” LaBelle shockingly forgot the lyrics.
“Oh lord,” she said to the audience at one point. “Whatever, I can’t see the words; I don’t know. I’m trying, y’all.”
The 79-year-old ended up freestyling after struggling to read the lyrics on a Teleprompter, which was blocked by a section of the audience.
Still, LaBelle powered through the performance with her powerhouse vocals and background singers, and received a standing ovation at the end.
After the big night, she opened up backstage to correspondents from “Entertainment Tonight,” where she explained the “little tweak” in her performance.
“It meant no matter what voice I’m in — I’m hoarse, I have a cold — but whatever, I had to, I was giving it up for Tina Turner, ’cause she’s simply the best,” LaBelle said, as she got a bit emotional thinking about the late icon. “So you heard a little tweak every now and then out there, but I love her, and I did my best.”
While many tried to come for the “Godmother of Soul,” several others on Twitter came to her defense and blamed production for the mishap.
Holly Robinson Peete wrote, “Yes, because producers didn’t make sure that her Teleprompter was clear. They owe her big apology. Not tolerating any Patti slander. This woman is almost 80 and is a legend.”
Another fan said, “Ms. Patti looking great up there. 79 and going. Producers needed to make those words big AF.”
One commentator added, “No slander of Patti LaBelle. The producers and her manager, her son Zuri Edwards, and the rest of her team, should have made sure the teleprompter was placed where there would be zero chance of obstruction. #PattiLaBelle is a legend who sings her heart out. They did her wrong.”
A few others began sharing performance throwback clips of other times LaBelle had a mishap with a Teleprompter. During a Christmas special on C-SPAN2, she forgot the lyrics to the classic “This Christmas.”
“Where my background singers?” she sang before going into another freestyle. “And it’s the wrong words on the cue card. I don’t know the song…This Christmas.”
She continued, “I’m gonna ad lib all I can because I don’t have the right words and I have no background singers.”
Three women vocalists appeared on stage shortly afterward, but she still had difficulty reading the cue cards. In the clip, LaBelle can also be heard telling a woman, “Let me see that card again. Let me see that cue card again.”
Another memorable moment from the 2023 BET Awards was a musical tribute performance for Migos rapper Takeoff, who was shot and killed in November 2022. Fans enjoyed seeing surviving members Takeoff and Quavo join forces after months of their alleged beef.
The duo performed their 2016 breakthrough hit “Bad and Boujee” and another song, “Hotel Lobby,” the latter of which features Quavo and Takeoff.