Essence veteran Steve Harvey appeared briefly on the main stage Friday not as a comedian, but as a spokesman for festival co-sponsor Ford. In keeping with his put-upon comedic personality, he struggled to adjust to his new role. “This is killing me,” he said. “I would normally be telling jokes.” He did briefly clown around in front of the stage fan that would later blow Beyonce’s hair. And he noted that in 1977, he worked on a Ford assembly line. Now he’s the company’s presumably well paid spokesperson.
“That’s a major turnaround for me,” he said. “God is in the blessing business. He can turn your life around if you give him a shot.” Like Ne-Yo and Beyonce, he paid tribute to Michael Jackson, “the single greatest live performer of our lifetime. Do not lose sight of the greatness of this human being. Don’t be misled about rumors or lies. All of us in here have been touched by the music of Michael Jackson. You can do a tribute for four or five days and not run out of hits. The boy was amazing. Don’t lose sight of the man who put black people on MTV. If it wasn’t for Michael Jackson, we wouldn’t have crossed that boundary.”