Patti LaBelle was tasked with performing a Tina Turner tribute during Sunday night’s BET Awards ceremony. While the 79-year-old is one of the most remarkable singers of all time, she didn’t exactly nail the performance. 

LaBelle was gearing up to belt Turner’s 1989 hit “The Best” when she told the audience she forgot the words.

While ad-libbing early into the song and squinting to see the teleprompter at the back of the theater, LaBelle asked, “What if I can’t see… the words… I don’t know?”

A few videos on Twitter claimed audience members were, unbeknownst to them, blocking the singer’s view of the projected lyrics.

LaBelle leveled with the audience as she tried to make her way through the song.

She said, “I’m tryin’, y’all!”

Attendees seemed amused and sympathetic and still enjoyed the performance.


Social media users were torn about the performance — some were critical of LaBelle, while others argued her illustrious music career affords her a pass.

“Patti LaBelle shows up on time, on key, in tune, with her mic on and ready to sing her stilettos off. This has been true for nearly SIXTY years. So if her performance is ever less than earth shattering, Imma look several different places before I even consider blaming Patti,” one user tweeted.


“Patti LaBelle giving us a sequel to Where’s My Background Singers is wonderful, serotonin-inducing camp. 10/10, no notes,” another supporter wrote.

One Twitter user accused LaBelle of not being prepared for the tribute.

They commented, “One would think that if you’re going to perform this iconic song (that almost everyone actually knows), You would have better prepared yourself. How many times did you practice the song, is the question?”

Another Twitter user agreed.

#PattiLaBelle YOU SHOULD KNOW THE WORDS ‼️ this the 3rd time this happened to you. #BetAwards2023,” they wrote. 

A rep for the awards ceremony told The Hollywood Reporter, “It was an extraordinary privilege to celebrate the life and legacy of Ms. Tina Turner at BET Awards 2023. Having the incomparable Ms. Patti LaBelle on our stage honoring one of her contemporaries was an equal privilege. Due to the crowd’s enthusiasm, the teleprompter was obstructed, obscuring Ms. LaBelle’s view of the lyrics. Nonetheless, we couldn’t be more grateful to Ms. LaBelle for lending her incredible talent to this moment.”

LaBelle’s rendition of “The Best” was one of few recognizable mistakes at the ceremony, which is impressive for a three-and-a-half hour telecast. This year, the BET Awards celebrated 50 years of hip hop that included almost consecutive performances by some of the genre’s biggest artists.