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Remembering the life of Kobe Bryant, a teenager sweeping five major awards and an evening of stellar live music made the first Grammy award ceremony of the decade a memorable one.
The 62nd annual Grammy awards aired on CBS on Sunday evening at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, only hours after the news broke of the death of NBA star Kobe Bryant and 13-year-old daughter Gianna, along with seven other people, in a California helicopter crash.
Celebrities took time out of their red carpet appearances and performances to address the tragedy and offer condolences. Lizzo hyped up the audience by telling them that her set was dedicated to Bryant, a No. 24 jersey was proudly held up while Aerosmith sang and before setting down the microphone after a tribute performance to Nipsey Hussle, DJ Khaled chanted “Long live Nip! Long live Kobe! The marathon continues!”
The ceremony was confidently hosted by Alicia Keys, who opened the show with heartfelt words about Bryant’s death and explained that no one expected they would ever have to begin by discussing this news.
“We’re all feeling crazy sadness right now because earlier today Los Angeles, America and the whole wide world lost a hero,” Keys said on stage. “We’re literally standing here, heartbroken, in the house that Kobe Bryant built.”
After taking a moment of silence, Keys soothed the crowd and reminded everyone that they could use music to bring people together and to heal. Keys acted as a rock throughout the night as she humored musicians with her parody of Lewis Capaldi’s “Someone You Loved,” when she jokingly shouted out nominees in the room.
Keys also filled the venue with her own music as she delivered a strong performance of her new song “Underdog,” joined by Brittany Howard, the frontwoman of the blues band Alabama Shakes.
But that wasn’t the only stand out performance from the Grammys this year. Lizzo, who won for Best Pop Solo P erformance, kicked off the night with her hit songs “Cuz I Love You” and “Truth Hurts,” showing off both her soulful vocals and killer flute skills. Tyler, the Creator, who snagged the best rap album, let the music emit out of him as he energetically moved across the stage in a colorblocked suit and short blonde wig. Lil Nas X brought special guests Mason Ramsey, K-pop band BTS and Diplo with him to belt out his chart-topper “Old Town Road.”
While those musicians kept the crowd hyped up, others decided to slow down the tempo. Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton sweetly sang their country duet “Nobody But You.” Camila Cabello, who was nominated for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance, dedicated a touching performance of “First Man” to her father, who watched emotionally from the front row.
New songs certainly flooded the venue, but tributes for late musicians also highlighted older music. Usher smoothly glided his feet across the floor as he sang “Kiss” and “When Doves Cry” in honor of Prince, who passed away in April 2016. Afterwards, DJ Khaled, John Legend and Meek Mill performed a tribute to Nipsey Hussle, who was fatally shot in March of last year.
Out of everyone there, however, the person that had the most spotlight was 18-year-old Billie Eilish. Not only did she make Grammy debut performance alongside her brother Finneas O’Connell, but she swept all of the “Big Four” awards, which include Song of the Year, Best New Artist, Record of the Year and Album of the Year. The last musician to do this was Christopher Cross back in 1981, making Eilish the first woman to take home all of these awards in one night.
Despite the somber mood that thickened the air in the wake of Bryant’s death, the Grammys prevailed. The awards ceremony took the opportunity to celebrate life and music, reminding everyone watching to hold their loved ones just a little bit closer.