Alicia Keys Hosts Music’s Biggest Night: The 2019 Grammys

Who won big at the Grammys? (Graphic property of the Recording Academy & CBS)

By: Jacob Elyachar,

The recording industry’s biggest names invaded Los Angeles’ Staples Center to celebrate the music world’s greatest achievements from 2018: The Grammys.  Rapper Kendrick Lamar secured the most Grammy nominations with eight, while Drake secured seven and both Brandi Carlile and record producer Boi-1da each had six nominations. 

Who won the most Grammys? Read on to find out!

Camila Cabello teamed up with a plethora of Latin music artists such as J Balvin, Ricky Martin, Arturo Sandoval, and Young Thug to open the Grammys! The quintet performed a spicy version of the former Fifth Harmony member’s hit “Havana.” The performance had shades of West Side Story and some Santana guitar riffs that set the evening’s tone.

Host Alicia Keys welcomed everyone to the 61st Annual Grammy Awards. She stated that “music is so powerful.” She vowed to take care of everyone during the evening. The former Voice coach also acknowledged Tracee Ellis Ross, Dolly Parton, Chloe x Hallie, and her family. Alicia also welcomed her “sisters”: former First Lady Michelle Obama, Jada Pinkett Smith, Jennifer Lopez, and Lady Gaga, to the Staples Center stage, who shared their love of music.

As the women left the stage, the Grammys host introduced Shawn Mendes, who performed his hit: “In My Blood.” He was joined by Miley Cyrus, who joined him for an amazing duet. Their vocals beautifully merged together and I hope that they release the performance on iTunes. Several members of the New England Patriots presented the Best Pop Duo/Group Performance Grammy to an emotional  Lady Gaga, who praised A Star is Born director and co-star who was at the BAFTAs.  

Actress Nina Dobrev introduced Kacey Musgraves, who performed “Rainbow.” While I am not a fan of Ms. Musgraves’ songs, she delivered a haunting and vulnerable vocal performance. Alicia Keys introduced her friend and sister-in-music, Janelle Monae. The Kansas City native delivered a fantastic performance of her hit song: “Make Me Feel.” I was so happy when she paid a small homage to her mentor—the late Prince.

The Grammys host recalled the moment that her hero, Stevie Wonder, called John Mayer’s name instead of her name. However, John Mayer gave her his Grammy and suddenly the “Daughters” singer-songwriter appeared on stage. They gave out the Song of the Year award to Childish Gambino for “This is America.”  As John Mayer left the stage, the Grammys host introduced Post Malone and Red Hot Chilli Peppers for a special Grammys mash-up of “Stay,” “Rockstar,” and “Dark Necessities.”

Actress-singer Anna Kendrick introduced the Dolly Parton tribute. Kacey Musgraves teamed up with Katy Perry for “Here You Come Again” and Dolly joined them for the last few bars. I got chills when she teamed up with her goddaughter, Miley Cyrus, as they revisited “Jolene.”  Maren Morris joined the duo for “After the Gold Rush” and they delivered one of the most beautiful performances of the night.  Next, Little Big Town teamed up with Dolly to debut a new song from Dumplin’: “Red Shoes.”  All of the artists returned to the stage to join Dolly in singing “9 to 5.”

Alicia Keys introduced Grammy-winning songstress H.E.R., who made her Staples Center debut. She beautifully sang “Hard Place” and secured her future in the music industry. After H.E.R. left the stage, Alicia Keys introduced another woman who is taking over the music world: Cardi B. The “Bartier Cardi” rapper performed “Money,” which showcased her inner Vegas showgirl. As the rapper left the stage, Meghan Trainor teamed up with rising country music stars Luke Combs and Kane Brown to present the Best Country Album to Kacey Musgraves for Golden Hour.

Alicia welcomed the audience to Club Keys. She played Roberta Flack’s “Killing Me Softly” in honor of the singer’s birthday. She also weaved Nat King Cole’s “Unforgettable,” Kings of Leon’s “Use Somebody,” and Drake’s “In My Feelings” into a brilliant medley. She also revealed that she wanted to write Ms. Lauryn Hill’s “Doo Wop (That Thing)” and concluded the segment with “Empire State of Mind.”  Dan + Shay had the challenge to follow that brilliant segment with a beautiful, unplugged rendition of “Tequila.” Following that performance, the duo awarded Best Rap Song to Drake for “God’s Plan.”

The Grammys recognized music legend and Motown icon Diana Ross in honor of her 75th birthday. After a brief introduction from her grandson, Ms. Ross performed “The Best Years of My Life” and “Reach Out and Touch (Somebody’s Hand).” There are two words to describe Ms. Ross and they are “legendary” and “icon.”

Alicia Keys introduced Lady Gaga, who shared the stage with her “Shallow” co-writers. The quartet performed the runaway hit from A Star is Born. While we missed Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga delivered one of the best performances of the night that electrified the Staples Center.  Eve and Swiss Beatz introduced rapper Travis Scott, who performed with “No Bystanders” with James Blake and dozens of dancers.

To introduce the Motown tribute, Alicia sang “The Tracks of My Tears” with the legendary Smokey Robinson. After teasing the audience with the upcoming Motown CBS celebration, Mr. Robinson joined forces with Ne-Yo and Jennifer Lopez to perform a plethora of classic tunes. I loved seeing Motown leader Berry Gordy‘s facial expression as the World of Dance creator performed. Mr. Robinson joined J.Lo for “My Girl,” and Alicia joined in for “Papa Was a Rolling Stone.” Ne-Yo ended the set with Stevie Wonder’s “Another Star” as J.Lo danced around the stage. As the artists left the stage, BTS presented the Best R&B Album Grammy award to H.E.R.

As the night wound down, Brandi Carlile performed her massive hit, “The Joke,” which she received a massive standing ovation. Chloe x Halle performed “Where is the Love?” to honor Donny Hathaway. The duo also presented the Best Rap Album to Cardi B for Invasion of Privacy.

Alessia Cara and entertainment icon Bob Newhart presented the Best New Artist award to Dua Lipa.  Following the Grammys’ In Memoriam segment, Andra Day, Fantasia, and Yolanda Adams came together to honor the late Aretha Franklin with a cover of “Natural Woman.” The night ended as Kacey Musgraves won Album of the Year, while Childish Gambino won Record of the Year for his groundbreaking song: “This is America.”

Before the Ceremony aired, here are some of the winners who won some significant awards:

  • Best Country Duo/Group Performance: “Tequila,” Dan + Shay
  • Best Gospel Album: Hiding Place, Tori Kelly
  • Best Musical Theater Album: The Band’s Visit
  • Best Music Video: “This is America,” Childish Gambino
  • Best Pop Vocal Album: Sweetener, Ariana Grande
  • Best Song Written for Visual Media: “Shallow,” (from A Star is Born) [Lady Gaga, Mark Ronson, Anthony Rossomando, and Andrew Wyatt, songwriters]

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Copyright 2020 Jacob Elyachar