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Ciara, West lead nominees at BET Awards

Will and Jada Pinkett Smith to host show
/ Source: The Associated Press

Teen ’crunk & B’ singer Ciara as well as Kanye West and John Legend led the nominees at the BET Awards.

Mr. and Mrs. Smith — that’s Will and Jada Pinkett — were hosting Tuesday night’s live show at Hollywood’s Kodak Theatre. Scheduled performers included The Game, T.I., Stevie Wonder, triple-nominee Destiny’s Child, Mariah Carey and lifetime achievement honoree Gladys Knight.

Ciara, who blends crunk with a breathy delivery on the hit “Oh,” had four nominations — for viewers’ choice, best collaboration, female R&B artist and new artist.

West, the top nominee at this year’s Grammys, had three BET nods — for male hip-hop and gospel artist as well as video of the year for “Jesus Walks.” He produced three separate videos for the religious song from last year’s acclaimed CD “College Dropout.”

Legend competes with his collaborator West in the video category, with a nomination for “Ordinary People.” The melodic song features Legend accompanying himself on piano with no additional instrumentation. Legend also was nominated for R&B artist and new artist.

Other nominees in the video category — the night’s final award — were Amerie for her catchy “1 Thing,” Jay-Z’s black-and-white “99 Problems” and Snoop Dogg and Pharrell’s much-mimicked “Drop It Like It’s Hot.”

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Besides the music and video categories, awards go to black actors and actresses and male and female athletes. Denzel Washington and wife Pauletta were being honored with a humanitarian award.

Smith said he was blending in a message with the acceptance speeches and songs, focusing on how U.S. black culture is followed closely by Africans and other overseas black communities. He urged rappers and other artists to pay attention to their significance globally.

“It’s important to elevate this show to bring some sense of understanding and connection to the young blacks of the world who they affect every day and they have no idea,” he said. “It has to be well-disguised in entertainment, but it’s definitely something we’re working into the show.”

Winners of the fifth annual awards show were decided by a panel of executives from entertainment companies, record labels and the media, except the viewers’ choice award in which fans voted online for their favorite video.