The 2020 Grammy Awards kicked off in tribute to basketball icon Kobe Bryant, who died hours before the show, with a touching, emotional performance led by host Alicia Keys.
Keys was joined by Boyz II Men on Sunday to sing an a capella version of It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday at the Staples Center – Bryant’s stomping ground – as the audience watched in awe.
“Here we are together on music’s biggest night celebrating the artists that do it best, but to be honest with you we are all feeling crazy sadness right now,” Keys said as she entered the stage, adding that “Los Angeles, America and the world-wide world lost a hero.”
She said the audience was “heartbroken in the house that Kobe Bryant built”.
“Right now Kobe and his daughter Gianna … are in our spirits, they’re in our hearts, they’re in prayers, they’re in this building,” she said.
“Take a moment and hold them inside of you and share our strength and our support with their families.”
Before the show officially honoured Bryant, Lizzo performed the songs Truth Hurts and Cuz I Love You, saying at the top of the show: “Tonight is for Kobe.”
Lizzo was among the mix of newcomers and well-known acts who reached their goals of winning their first-ever Grammy Awards on Sunday.
They also included Tanya Tucker, J Cole, Billie Eilish, Lil Nas X, Billy Ray Cyrus and late rapper Nipsey Hussle.
Michelle Obama, Sara Bareilles, Rosalia and 21 Savage also became official Grammy winners when the show handed out trophies during its pre-telecast ceremony.
Gary Clark Jr and Eilish’s brother, Finneas, walked away as the most awarded stars, so far, taking home three awards each.
Finneas – who co-wrote, produced and engineered his sister’s debut album, When We All Fall sleep, Where Do We Go? – won best-engineered album (non-classical), best pop vocal album (shared with his sister) and non-classical producer of the year.
“My heart is beating so fast right now,” Finneas said.
‘Belongs to Billie’
“This award belongs to my sister Billie for her trust and vision.”
A number of acts won two awards in the pre-telecast, including Lizzo, Lil Nas X and Cyrus, Anderson .Paak, Lady Gaga, Tucker, Kirk Franklin and Jacob Collier.
And Beyonce, the most nominated woman in the history of the Grammys, won her 24th award.
Nipsey Hussle has posthumously won best rap performance for Racks in the Middle, which features Roddy Ricch and Hit-Boy.
Hussle’s family, including his brother, grandmother and actress-fiancee Lauren London, accepted the honour during the pre-telecast.
“Nip did it, not just for the awards, but for the people,” London said onstage.
Hussle was nominated for two other awards: He lost best rap song to J Cole and 21 Savage.
The third award will be presented during the live show, where Hussle will be honoured with a tribute performance from DJ Khaled, John Legend, Meek Mill and others.
New stars like Lizzo, Eilish and Lil Nas X – the most-nominated acts on Sunday – won the first Grammys of their careers.
They have the chance to win more, though a cloud has loomed over this year’s awards.