Alicia Keys hosted the 61st Grammy Awards this past Sunday, Feb. 11, and it was quite a show. Per usual, awards were handed out, songs were performed and speeches were delivered. However, this ceremony stood out in particular because of the amazing energy which permeated through the star-studded performances as well as extremely emotional speeches.
The greatness of this show centered around the evening’s hostess, Alicia Keys. Keys made this night spectacular by doing everything from playing two pianos at once to masterfully displaying her incredible vocal abilities. Besides displaying her incredible piano and vocal talents, Keys was nothing short of spectacular. Her constant positive energy permeated throughout the building. She opened the night by speaking about the importance of music as a unifier. She then summoned her superstar friends Jennifer Lopez, Lady Gaga, Jada Pinkett Smith and Michelle Obama to continue spreading these positive vibes. Amongst their other positive messages, these women focused primarily on female empowerment, for this issue has emerged as extremely troubling at past Grammy’s. Thankfully, on this night, women from all generations dominated the stage.
Multiple artists on this evening had the luxury of both winning an award and being able to perform. Singer-songwriter Brandi Carlisle’s incredible performance of her hit song “The Joke” merely served as the perfect ending to a day where she had already won three Grammy’s. Country duo Dan + Shay completed the triple crown of presenting an award, receiving one of their own and performing live on stage. Cardi B followed up her head-turning performance by winning Best Rap Album. Shortly after dramatically walking on stage with her megastar friends, Lady Gaga emotionally received her award for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance. Gaga struggled to maintain her composure, explaining that her contributions to this project affected her deeply because of its focus on mental health. By the time she performed this song, Gaga had gone into complete rock mode, delivering her expected aggressive and passionate performance.
The array of performers, recipients and speakers on stage covered from all genres and backgrounds. This interesting variety of performances included Cardi B’s peacock feathers, Janelle Monae’s dancing robots and Travis Scott’s cage. Dua Lipa and St. Vincent united for a performance, yet their collaboration was not as unexpected as the duo of Post Malone and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Camila Cabello kicked off the show with quite a performance. Her colorful ensemble of impressive dancing and singing included superstars Young Thug and J. Balvin as well as legends Arturo Sandoval and Ricky Martin. Miley Cyrus performed multiple times, as did Album of the Year winner Kacey Musgraves. Donald Glover aka Childish Gambino and his crew won both Song of the Year and Record of the Year for their hit “This is America.”
On a night that included performances from Smokey Robinson, Diana Ross and Dolly Parton (yes, it’s 2019), no one performance stood above the rest. Seeing Dolly Parton sing a collection of her greatest hits alongside artists such as Miley Cyrus and Katy Perry was just as awesome as witnessing Smokey Robinson, Jennifer Lopez and crew perform Motown classics such as “Dancing in the Street” and “Do You Love Me”. Diana Ross’ threw herself a pretty memorable 75th birthday party as well. While all these living legends received great praise and honor from their fellow musicians, the Recording Academy did not ignore the greatness of the late Aretha Franklin, providing her with an outstanding tribute performance from modern soul singers Fantasia, Andra Day and Yolanda Adams.
Amidst this night of high emotions, Recording Academy president Neil Portnow delivered an unofficial apology for his comments about women at the Grammy’s. Portnow’s message addressed his infamous words which followed last year’s male-dominated Grammy’s where he told women “to step up” if they wished to be more represented at this ceremony. Portnow’s message coincided with the night’s overarching theme of unity. Everyone from Drake to Diana Ross had filled the night with support and positivity. Portnow’s thank you to, “a remarkable and diverse group, including some of the most thrilling new and legendary female voices of our times” further emphasized the ceremony’s message of love. Keys took charge of this night-long expression of inclusion, acceptance, and equality. While this night filled the Staples Center in Los Angeles with immeasurable amounts of talent and passion, Keys did her very most to make sure that this music community appreciated each other’s company for outside reasons as well. This atmosphere of support and empowerment resulted in a memorable night for music.