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BET Awards to pay tribute to Jackson

  • Story Highlights
  • BET Awards are scheduled for Sunday night
  • Many of the planned attendees expected to pay tribute to Michael Jackson
  • Network CEO: "Michael's influence is felt every day in so many ways"
By Lisa Respers France
CNN
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(CNN) -- In 2003, the BET Awards had a priceless moment when Michael Jackson surprised his idol, James Brown, by showing up on stage where the duo thrilled the audience with an electrifying performance.

Michael Jackson performed with James Brown at the BET Awards in 2003. This year's show is dedicated to Jackson.

Michael Jackson performed with James Brown at the BET Awards in 2003. This year's show is dedicated to Jackson.

Now, both the King of Pop and the Godfather of Soul are gone.

Sunday night's 9th Annual BET Awards is sure to be filled with tributes to Jackson, whose videos and performances were a staple for the network in his heyday. BET has already paid tribute to the singer, going wall-to-wall with Jackson videos Thursday night.

Many of the celebrities scheduled to attend the show were also fans of the singer and it is expected that the night will provide an opportunity for them to salute the star.

"Words cannot capture the impact Michael Jackson has had on pop culture around the world," said Debra L. Lee, chairman and chief executive officer of BET Networks. "He changed the way we hear and feel and move to music; he epitomized what true musical talent and star power really mean. He is and always will be the King of Pop."

Academy Award-winning actor and R&B singer Jamie Foxx is set to host the show.

Several of the scheduled performers include artists, such as Ne-Yo and Beyonce, who have acknowledged the influence of Jackson on their music and careers.

The annual event is a premier one for the network and this year's plan was to recognize the musical legacy and longstanding career of the legendary soul trio, the O'Jays, with the presentation of the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Artists Alicia Keys and Wyclef Jean are to be honored with the Humanitarian Award for their respective charitable work.

BET CEO Lee said Sunday's show will be dedicated to Jackson and will also pay tribute to his legacy.

Lee reflected on Jackson's career and his importance to BET -- which stands for Black Entertainment Television -- in a prepared statement after his death, while also offering heartfelt prayers for the singer's family and friends.

"Michael's influence is felt every day in so many ways at BET Networks, and it's been that way throughout our network's entire 29-year history," she said. "We watched him grow up and, like everyone around the world, he feels like he is a member of our family.

"He will be missed more than we can say ... but his legend and memory live on in the artists, musicians, producers, dancers, fans and everyone else who looks to him for inspiration."

The BET Awards is scheduled to run live on the cable network Sunday at 8 p.m.

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