In the weeks leading up to the BET Awards, just one Prince tribute was advertised: D'Angelo and Sheila E. performing with the Roots. It was a perfect combination: Prince's longtime collaborator Sheila along with possibly the two biggest fans and successors of his legacy, both of whom had not only covered his songs but also performed with him at an after-show in 1997.
Ultimately, several tributes took place during the show -- featuring Stevie Wonder, Erykah Badu, Janelle Monae, Maxwell and others -- and Sheila gave a masterful performance in the finale, a lightning-fast 10-minute medley of multiple songs. Just one thing was missing: D'Angelo, who is a dazzling performer but can be skittish (as one might expect from an artist who took 14 years to complete his third album).
It's not that he didn't have the goods: in 2012, he tore the roof off of Carnegie Hall during a Prince tribute there. Backed by The Roots and ex-Prince band members Wendy and Susannah Melvoin and saxist Eric Leeds, he led the band through rousing versions of "It's Gonna Be a Beautiful Night" and "1999."
Reps for the singer and BET had not responded to Billboard's requests for comment at press time. The only semi official word came from Questlove, who responded via Twitter to a fan's request to bring D'Angelo onstage by saying "Not gonna happen."
See photos of D'Angelo performing: