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Fugees Surprise at BET Awards

Hip-hop trio perform, talk reunion album

June 29, 2005 12:00 AM ET

The Fugees opened the BET Awards Tuesday night, surprising a star-studded audience at Los Angeles' Kodak Theater with three songs, "Ready or Not," "Fu-Gee-La" and "Killing Me Softly With His Song." The unannounced set was the fulfillment of the promise Pras Michel made Rolling Stone last month when he said of future performances, "We're just gonna show up."

The trio of Wyclef Jean, Lauryn Hill and Pras had audience members on their feet throughout the three songs, and the overwhelming support found Pras a bit humbled. "Just to see your peers standing up for us was incredible," he said afterwards. "We've been out for a while and haven't had anything for a while, so it felt great, man."

According to Pras, the performance will fuel the Fugees reunion album -- the long-awaited follow-up to 1996's The Score, which became the best-selling hip-hop album ever -- planned for release next year. "We working on music -- it's in the works," Pras said. "This is definitely gonna pump our inspiration and get the juices going."

As for the new album's sound, expect the Fugees to be true to their past. "You're not gonna hear no crunk or no down south," Pras said. "You're gonna hear Fugee vibe."

Among the awards show's other highlights were Lifetime Achievement Award winner Gladys Knight, who did soaring renditions of classic hits like "Midnight Train to Georgia" and "If I Were Your Woman," and duets by R&B legend Stevie Wonder and new sensation John Legend, as well as crunk diva Ciara and rapper Ludacris. In one of their final television appearances, best-group winners Destiny's Child provided some sizzle by giving Nelly, basketball legend Magic Johnson and actor Terrence Howard lap dances as going-away presents.

The 2005 B.E.T. Awards winners:

Best Female Hip-Hop Artist: Remy Ma
Best Male Hip-Hop Artist: Kanye West
Best Collaboration: Ciara, featuring Missy Elliott, "1, 2 Step"
Best Female R&B Artist: Alicia Keys
Best Male R&B Artist: Usher
Best Group: Destiny's Child
Best New Artist: John Legend
Best Gospel Artist: Donnie Mcclurkin
Video of the Year: Kanye West's "Jesus Walks"
Best Actress: Regina King
Best Actor: Jamie Foxx
Female Athlete of the Year: Serena Williams
Male Athlete of the Year: Shaquille O'Neal
Bet.Com Viewers' Choice Award: Omarion's O

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Song Stories

“Bird on a Wire”

Leonard Cohen | 1969

While living on the Greek island of Hydra, Cohen was battling a lingering depression when his girlfriend handed him a guitar and suggested he play something. After spotting a bird on a telephone wire, Cohen wrote this prayer-like song of guilt. First recorded by Judy Collins, it would be performed numerous times by artists incuding Johnny Cash, Joe Cocker and Rita Coolidge. "I'm always knocked out when I hear my songs covered or used in some situation," Cohen told Rolling Stone. "I've never gotten over the fact that people out there like my music."

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