At 51, Queen Latifah to Get Lifetime Achievement Award at 2021 BET Awards

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Queen Latifah is 51 — midlife, perhaps, but hardly the age when you expect to start receiving lifetime achievement awards. And yet, that’s just what’s about to happen to the versatile performer. BET announced Monday (June 14) that Latifah will receive a lifetime achievement award at this year’s BET Awards on June 27.

She’ll be the third-youngest solo artist to receive the honor. The youngest was Whitney Houston, who was just 37 when she was honored at the first BET Awards in 2001. Second-youngest was Mary J. Blige, who was 48 when she received the honor two years ago.

While 37 may be awfully young to get a lifetime achievement award, it’s a good thing BET recognized Houston while she was still here to receive her flowers, to use a currently popular expression. Houston died unexpectedly in 2012 at age 48.

Prince was also on the young side when he received a lifetime achievement award from BET. He was 52 when he received the honor in 2010. He too died unexpectedly in 2016 at age 57.

Neither Houston nor Prince has yet received a lifetime achievement award from the Recording Academy (though those awards are sometimes presented posthumously, so either may still receive it). Prince lived to see his induction in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (in 2004). Houston did not live to see her Rock Hall induction (in 2020).

The oldest solo artist to receive a lifetime achievement award at the BET Awards was Smokey Robinson, who was 75 when he received the honor in 2015. Second-oldest was James Brown, who was 70 when he was honored in 2003.

Patti LaBelle and Samuel L. Jackson were both 67 when they were honored. Jackson is the only non-music star to be honored. He was honored in the same year that Prince died, and the show included multiple tributes to Prince. No music artist wanted to – or could – compete with that, so the show chose a film star instead.

Here’s a list of artists who have received lifetime achievement awards from the BET. In the case of solo artists, their ages when they received the award are shown in parentheses.

2001: Whitney Houston (37)
2002: Earth, Wind & Fire
2003: James Brown (70)
2004: The Isley Brothers
2005: Gladys Knight (61)
2006: Chaka Khan (53)
2007: Diana Ross (63)
2008: Al Green (62)
2009: The O’Jays
2010: Prince (52)
2011: Patti LaBelle (67)
2012: Maze featuring Frankie Beverly
2013: Charlie Wilson (60)
2014: Lionel Richie (64)
2015: Smokey Robinson (75)
2016: Samuel L. Jackson (67)
2017: New Edition
2018: Anita Baker (60)
2019: Mary J. Blige (48)
2020: no award
2021: Queen Latifah (51)

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