In its fifth consecutive year, BET Networks presents BET HONORS, a memorable night celebrating the outstanding achievements of seven extraordinary legends in music, literature, entertainment, media, service and education. Hosted by talented actress Gabrielle Union at the historic Warner Theater in Washington, D.C., BET HONORS celebrates the lifetime contributions and exceptional service of certain individuals to African-American culture in music, literature, entertainment, media, service and education. The star-studded, unforgettable special will premiere during 1st quarter 2012 on BET.
The 2012 honored recipients include renowned poet/author Maya Angelou (Literary Arts), internationally acclaimed musician Stevie Wonder (Musical Arts), Grammy-Award winning songstress Mariah Carey (Entertainer), influential filmmaker Spike Lee (Media), the heroic Tuskegee Airmen (Service) and inspirational coach and mentor Beverly Kearney (Education).
BET HONORS has become a staple in BET history by celebrating extraordinary African-American shining stars including Cicely Tyson, Jamie Foxx, Iman, Herbie Hancock, Whitney Houston, Queen Latifah, Sean "Diddy" Combs with unforgettable past performances by Trey Songz, Ne-yo, Yolanda Adams, Keyshia Cole, Jennifer Hudson, Mary J. Blige, Patti LaBelle, among many others.
Stephen Hill, President of Music Programming and Specials, BET Networks, and Lynne Harris Taylor, Vice President of Specials, BET Networks are executive producers, along with Cossette Productions.
For more information on THE BET HONORS, visit www.bet.com/bethonors. Viewers can also find series updates on Facebook by liking the fan pages at www.facebook.com/BETHonors. Also, join the conversation about the special on Twitter by using hashtags: #BETHonors; follow the show for all updates & special surprises @BETHonors. For more information about this special visit www.BET.com. *All times EST
About the 2012 BET Honorees
Maya Angelou – Dr.Maya Angelou is one of the most renowned and influential voices of our time. Hailed as a global renaissance woman, Dr. Angelou is a celebrated poet, memoirist, novelist, educator, dramatist, producer, actress, historian, filmmaker, and civil rights activist. Dr. Angelou recently received the prestigious 2011 Medal of Freedom from President Obama. Raised in St. Louis, Missouri and Stamps, Arkansas, Dr. Angelou experienced the brutality of racial discrimination, but she also absorbed the unshakable faith and values of traditional African-American family, community, and culture. As a young woman, Dr. Angelou toured Europe with a production of the opera Porgy and Bess. And during her years abroad, Dr. Angelou read and studied voraciously, mastering French, Spanish, Italian, Arabic and the West African language Fanti. She studied modern dance with Martha Graham, danced with Alvin Ailey on television variety shows and, in 1957, recorded her first album, Calypso Lady. Later she moved to New York, where she joined the Harlem Writers Guild, acted in the historic Off-Broadway production of Jean Genet's The Blacks and wrote and performed Cabaret for Freedom. With the guidance of her friend, novelist James Baldwin, suggested and encouraged Dr.Angelou to write her autobiography, which became known as I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Published in 1970, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was published to international acclaim and enormous popular success resulting in Dr.Angelou becoming the first African-American woman to have the longest running book, appear on the New York Times Paperback, Nonfiction Best Seller List. The list of her published verse, non-fiction, and fiction now includes more than 30 bestselling titles. A trailblazer in film and television, Dr. Angelou wrote the screenplay and composed the score for the 1972 film Georgia, Georgia. Her script, the first by an African American woman ever to be filmed, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. She continues to appear on television and in films including the landmark television adaptation of Alex Haley's Roots (1977) and John Singleton's Poetic Justice (1993) and Tyler Perry's Madea's Family Reunion (2006). In 1996, she directed her first feature film, Down in the Delta. In 2008, she composed poetry for and narrated the award-winning documentary The Black Candle, directed by M.K. Asante. Dr. Angelou has served on two presidential committees, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Arts in 2000 by President Clinton, the Lincoln Medal in 2008, and has received 3 Grammy Awards. Dr. Angelou has received over 50 honorary degrees and is the first lifetime Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University. Dr.Angelou is an active member of several community, civil and professional organizations, including Harlem Writer's Guild, Horatio Alger Association, Clinton Global Initiative, SeeForever Foundation and has several public and charter schools, libraries and apartments named in her honor.
Stevie Wonder – Stevie Wonder is a legendary artist, songwriter, musician, and producer who at the age of 13, was the youngest recording artist to achieve a #1 single with "Fingertips, Part 2". He went on to amass 49 Top Forty singles, including "I Was Made To Love Her", "For Once In My Life", "Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I'm Yours", 32 #1 singles which include, "You Are the Sunshine Of My Life", "Superstition", "Sir Duke", and worldwide sales of over 100 million units. Among his many awards, acknowledgements and achievements, Stevie has received 25 Grammy Awards, the prestigious Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and an Academy Award and Golden Globe in 1984 for "I Just Called To Say I Love You" from the film The Woman In Red. Universally recognized as one of the most influential musicians in the world, Stevie has also demonstrated extraordinary humanitarian efforts, philanthropic leadership, and generosity of spirit. As an activist, Stevie's "Happy Birthday", became the rallying song in his efforts to make DR. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday a national American holiday. Stevie is a United Nations Messenger of Peace with a special focus on persons with disabilities.
Mariah Carey – Multifaceted entertainer Mariah Carey continues her journey as one of the world's most influential superstars. Her recent album, MERRY CHRISTMAS II YOU is Mariah Carey's 13th studio album, following up her worldwide multi-million-selling Memoirs Of An Imperfect Angel (released September 2009), her multi-platinum E=MC2 (2008), and worldwide 10 million selling The Emancipation Of Mimi (2005). The Emancipation Of Mimi generated three Grammy awards (including Best Contemporary R&B Album), two #1 singles, and countless more honors during its 18-month chart stay. Soundscan's biggest-selling album of 2005, Mimi featured "We Belong Together" (Grammy winner for Best Female R&B Vocal and Best R&B Song) and "Don't Forget About Us," Mariah's 16th and 17th #1 career singles respectively. They tied one of the most enduring chart records in Billboard Hot 100 history, Elvis Presley's 17 #1's. Three years later, Mariah surpassed Elvis when "Touch My Body" (from E=MC2) became her 18th #1 Hot 100 hit. "Touch My Body" spent two weeks at the top, Mariah's 78th and 79th cumulative career weeks at #1, which tied Elvis' long-standing all-time high of 79 weeks at #1, as calculated by Billboard. Mariah is now positioned as the only active recording artist in the 50 years of the Hot 100 (which began in 1958) with the potential to surpass the Beatles' all-time high of 20 #1 hits. The success of E=MC2 brought total sales of Mariah's albums, singles and videos to more than 200 million worldwide, distancing her even further from the pack as the top-selling female recording artist in history.