Erika Alexander Surprises Queen Latifah With “Happy Birthday” Love At NAACP Image Awards

Erika Alexander showered Queen Latifah with love during a birthday celebration at the NAACP Image Awards. Alexander surprised the host and her former Living Single co-star with a rendition of Stevie Wonder’s “Happy Birthday,” aka the official Black birthday anthem. 

“Tonight is a beautiful celebration of our community. And in that same spirit, we would be remiss if we didn’t celebrate you tonight, friend, for the light that you shine, the trails that you blazed, the empowerment you instill. Happy Birthday, Queen!” And on cue, a man wheeled out a blue birthday cake with the emcee’s name sprawled atop. 

Erika then threw the reigns to Sheryl Lee Ralph—and you know Auntie Sheryl got in her bag. The rendition started off awkward as the song and her microphone were slightly de-synced. However, once the Abbott Elementary actress caught the groove, she didn’t turn it loose. Sheryl sang and walked about the crowd, performing with different entertainers in attendance. Actors Glynn Turman and Keke Palmer both got on the microphone to show the Queen some love. 

Elsewhere in the show, Usher Raymond was honored with the NAACP President’s Award. Derrick Johnson, President and CEO of the NAACP, introduced the award. He recalled Raymond’s 30-year career and his journey to becoming the star the culture has today. Johnson stated that the award celebrates and recognizes the Atlanta singer’s “unparalleled talent and remarkable contributions.” The Coming Home artist dedicated the award to his mother for believing in his dream. 

“I wanted to make it known that far too often, women in our industry [don’t] get the recognition that they truly deserve. When we first started, it was even harder for a mother to believe in the dreams that I had because I was unwavering, being raised without a father. In our home being raised [by] a single parent…it was a lot. But [mom], if anybody deserves it more than anybody, it’s her.

“I want you to know how much I really love, honor, recognize, and appreciate you. It’s an incredible honor to be recognized by the NAACP in and this beautiful community,” he went on. “We all take our crafts very serious…I am thankful for the support that my mother gave me. I’m overwhelmed by the appreciation from my entire family. I thank my beautiful mother and my beautiful wife, Jennifer, for holding me down. I dedicate this award to family.”