Former first lady Michelle Obama paid a glowing tribute to “my girl” Beyonce, as the singer was honoured for her philanthropy work.

Beyonce was recognised at the BET Awards, which celebrate black artists and sportspeople.

She was praised for her charitable work through the BeyGOOD foundation, including teaming up with her mother, Tina Knowles, to ensure more Covid-19 testing was available to black residents in her home city of Houston, Texas.

Obama delivered a video tribute during the virtual ceremony, saying the star “has been lighting up stages and gracing the world with her talent, with her generosity of spirit and with her love for her community”.

She said: “You can see it in everything she does, from her music that gives voice to black joy and black pain, to her activism that demands justice for black lives.

“And no matter how big the stages get, I know my girl isn’t satisfied unless she’s sharing all that shine she has with the next generation.”

Obama praised Beyonce for promoting younger performers including R&B duo Chloe X Halle, as well as for “calling out sexism and racism when she sees it”.

The mother-of-two said Beyonce remains devoted to husband Jay-Z and the couple’s three children, describing her as an inspiration.

She said: “She’s always turning up, looking out and making us all a little bit better, a little more fierce and she’s doing it all while staying devoted to her children and the loved ones she holds dear.

“So to my girl, I just want to say, you inspire me, you inspire all of us.”

Obama added: “Congratulations girl, love you so much.”

Previous recipients of BET’s humanitarian award include boxer Muhammad Ali, music producer Quincy Jones and actor Denzel Washington.