Quenn Latifah (267149)

New Jersey went to church on Sunday night as some of the most powerful women in entertainment got together at this year’s Black Girls Rock awards, reports Variety. The show, however, won’t air until Sept. 8 on BET. The 2018 taping of the annual celebration of women of color at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center featured Queen Latifah as host. “Tonight we celebrate our queens,” she said to start off the program, which honored Janet Jackson, Mary J. Blige, dance pioneer Judith Jamison, supermodel Naomi Campbell, Lena Waithe and Me Too founder Tarana Burke. The show opened and closed with moving tributes to Aretha Franklin, who died on Aug. 16 from pancreatic cancer at age 76. “This was a woman who never limited herself,” “Greenleaf” actress Merle Dandridge told Variety. “She always crossed genres. She always crossed cultures. She was never predictable. She was always ferocious and pioneering. Even if you didn’t know her ethics or know her as a woman, you know what she said to you in her music.” Throughout the telecast, numerous women of power and influence took the stage to present awards to honorees. Phylicia Rashad’s walk to the mic stand was greeted with a standing ovation as she bestowed the star power award to Blige. The award-winning singer expressed gratitude for her presenter as equally as to her fans. “Now that I am here, I know I have been rocking for years,” Blige said. “You all know that I have had my fair share of ups and downs. I have faced a lot of obstacles — some humiliating and embarrassing times. Because of you, I have come out on the other side each and every time.” Ciara presented the rock star award to Jackson with the audience cheering for nearly two minutes. Jackson said in her acceptance speech, “Black girls rock now more than ever, and girls, all I can say is rock on.”