Alicia Keys hosted the Grammys, which were full of surprises and great performances. Cardi B and Travis Scott, hit the stage with a vengeance and had everyone on their feet during their performances. The Best New Artist nominee H.E.R. had even BTS, the hot Korean boy group, singing along when she sang “Hard Place” live. And then there was Janelle Monae’s striking futuristic performance (complete with lasers and her playing electric guitar) of “Make Me Feel.” Some said Chloe X Halle, a protégé of Beyoncé, delivered the most mesmerizing performance when she sang Roberta Flack’s “Where Is the Love.”
Not to be outdone, Alicia Keys kicked off music’s biggest night with former First Lady Michelle Obama, and added several of the strongest women in show business, including Lady Gaga, Tracee Ellis Ross, Dolly Parton, Chloe X Halle and Jennifer Lopez. Mrs. Obama said, “Music helps us share ourselves, our dignity and sorrow, our hopes and joys.”
Keys also performed, killing it playing two pianos and then singing a few tunes in tribute to some of her favorites, such as Lauryn Hill. Speaking of tributes, Jennifer Lopez did a tribute to Motown, bringing out Motown legend Smokey Robinson to help her sing some of the Black-owned label’s biggest hits. In the R&B category, H.E.R. won for the song “Best Part,” which featured Daniel Caesar, in Best Performance, and then she went on to win Best R&B album for her self-titled debut.
Leon Bridges took home the trophy for Best Traditional R&B Performance for his version of “Bet Ain’t Worth the Hand,” tying with PJ Morton and his take on “How Deep Is Your Love.” The Best R&B Song went to “Boo’d Up” by Larrance Dobson, Joelle James, Ella Mai and Dijon McFarlane. Best Urban Contemporary Album went to the Carters (that’s Jay Z and Beyoncé) for “Everything Is Love.” Best R&B Album, again, went to H.E.R. for the album by the same name.
Best Song of the Year went to “This Is America” by Donald Glover/Childish Gambino and Ludwig Goransson. That’s a big win, as it is one of the most coveted categories in music. And the winning for Donald Glover/Childish Gambino didn’t stop there, as he also took home Record of the Year.
In the rap arena, Kendrick Lamar ruled the roost with eight nominations. He won for Best Rap Performance with “King’s Dead.” Childish Gambino took home the Best Rap/Sung Performance for “This Is America.” (That’s the third award for that song.) Best Rap song went to Drake for “God’s Plan,” which he accepted (he was expected to show) and the Best Rap Album went to Cardi B for “Invasion of Privacy.”
What many won’t hear about is Best Reggae Album, which went to Sting and Shaggy for their work on “44/876.” Dave Chappell won Best Comedy Album for “Equanimity & the Bird Revelation.” The Best Score Soundtrack went to “Black Panther,” and longtime jazz musician Terence Blanchard won for Best Instrumental Composition for “Blood and Soil.” Pharrell Williams picked up a Grammy for Producer of the Year, Non-Classical. A nice moment occurred when Diana Ross celebrated her 75th birthday by singing “The Best Years of My Life,” before bringing the audience to its feet and tears with “Reach Out and Touch.”
The Grammys are back in L.A., and it looks like for music’s Black community, it may be back as well.