Beyoncé, Jennifer Hudson Top BET Awards
06/27/2007 AT 08:15 AM EDT
Hudson, 25, kicked off the three-hour ceremony with a duet of "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" with Jennifer Holliday, who made the song famous on Broadway almost three decades ago.
The Oscar winner snagged the best actress trophy ("I can't believe I'm still winning awards!" she said) and best new artist award.
Beyoncé, 25, who led the nominees with six nods, picked up awards for best female R&B artist and video of the year for "Irreplaceable."
She also performed a show-stopping rendition of her dance anthem "Get Me Bodied" – followed by her Destiny's Child bandmate Kelly Rowland singing "Like This" with cameos from Eve, Michelle Williams and Beyoncé's sister Solange Knowles.
Later in the evening Diana Ross was given the lifetime achievement award, and urged younger performers to "keep it classy." Introduced by Alicia Keys and Ross's five children, the former Supreme was feted with a multi-song tribute that kicked off with Erykah Badu's cover of "Love Hangover."
Keys, in a green Monique Lhuillier gown, said later: "I was fortunate to be able to start off the honoring process for Ms. Diana Ross. It's the main reason I'm here. ... To be in the music business for 50 years, that is a feat! And to do it gracefully and with class is something we respect."
The late James Brown, who died in December, also received a tribute, when Public Enemy performed "Say It Loud (I'm Black and I'm Proud)." The night's other big winners included Ne-Yo (best male R&B artist) Gnarls Barkley (best group) and Forest Whitaker (best actor).
Reporting by JESSICA HERNDON