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Patti LaBelle Suffers Teleprompter Snafu, Fumbles Tina Turner Tribute at BET Awards



Patti LaBelle
Patti LaBelle’s tribute performance to the late Tina Turner at the 2023 BET Awards has drawn mixed reactions after LaBelle sang the wrong lyrics and inaudible lines to the song "The Best." (YouTube Screengrab)

Singer Patti LaBelle faced a teleprompter mishap during her tribute to Tina Turner at the BET Awards, causing her to stumble. Despite the setback, the seasoned diva powered through, reminiscent of her famous Christmas incident in 1996.

Dressed in a fringed mini-dress reminiscent of “Proud Mary,” LaBelle began her performance of Turner’s iconic 1989 anthem, “The Best,” on a strong note. However, she soon lost her way and appeared out of sync with her background singers. This time, she had backup vocalists, unlike the Christmas debacle of the past. LaBelle exclaimed, “Oh, Lord,” acknowledging the snafu.

With a melodious ad-lib, she sang, “Whatever, I can’t see the words, I don’t know,” just as she did back in ’96. The 79-year-old diva expressed her efforts, telling the amused audience, “I’m trying, y’all.” Despite not knowing the lyrics, she impressed viewers with her exceptional vocal talent. As one viewer tweeted, “Only Patti LaBelle can sound that good and not only not know the words but sing that she doesn’t know the words.”

Eventually regaining her composure, LaBelle concluded her performance with a flourish. A BET spokesperson later explained that the crowd’s enthusiasm obstructed the teleprompter, preventing LaBelle from seeing the lyrics. A video shared by an audience member supported this claim.


While the night celebrated younger artists like SZA, Latto, and Coco Jones as winners, the BET Awards also featured several old-school performers. Highlights included a 50th-anniversary tribute to hip-hop featuring artists such as 69 Boyz, Chief Keef, DJ Unk, Fast Life Yungstaz, Kid ‘n Play, Master P, Soulja Boy, Warren G, and Ying Yang Twins. The event also showcased the Sugarhill Gang, MC Lyte, D-Nice, and Big Daddy Kane performing “Rapper’s Delight” and “Cha Cha Cha,” as well as E-40, Tyga, and Yo-Yo delivering “Tell Me When to Go” and “Rack City.” Additionally, Fat Joe, Remy Ma, Ja Rule, and Fabolous presented a hits medley, and a star-studded tribute honored Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Busta Rhymes.

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