The 61st Annual Grammy Awards

Laghima Pandey

The 61st Annual Grammy Awards ceremony was held at Los Angeles’ Staples Center on February 10, 2019 and was aired live on CBS. Camila Cabello and Young Thug opened the ceremony by performing their hit “Havana,” with a stylized set that looked like something right out of “West Side Story.” As Cabello moved across the brightly lit stage, she was joined by dancers and performers.

The audience was surprised by the appearance of Lady Gaga, Jada Pinkett Smith, Jennifer Lopez and former first lady Michelle Obama, sharing the stage along with Alicia Keys. She called them her “sisters.” Each spoke about the importance of music, although Obama could barely get into her bit before the audience interrupted with deafening applause.

“Music helps us share ourselves,” Obama said. “It allows us to hear one another.”

The first Grammy of the night was for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance, which was won by Lady Gaga for “Shallow,” from the film “A Star Is Born.” Bradley Cooper wasn’t there, but Lady Gaga had enough emotion for the two of them.

Childish Gambino reportedly declined an invitation to perform at the Grammy’s, failing to even make an appearance to accept his award. But his “This Is America” took home two Grammy’s. One of these Grammy’s being for song of the year, beating “Shallow,” “The Middle,” and other huge hits, and the other one for record of the year. This is the first time a rap song has won in this category. The song caused a stir last May, when Gambino released its accompanying music video, which was full of racial symbolism and violent imagery.

Chris Cornell won a Grammy award for Best Rock Performance, almost two years after the Soundgarden singer’s death. His two youngest children – Toni & Christopher – accepted their father’s posthumous Grammy award, assuring the rocker’s legacy will live on after his death.


The 15-time Grammy winner Alicia Keys, used her musical skills to dazzle the audience with a performance packed with major hits. Keys performed Lauryn Hill’s “Doo Wop (That Thing),” Roberta Flack’s “Killing Me Softly With His Song,” and Kings of Leon’s “Use Somebody.” At one point during her medley, Keys played on two pianos simultaneously.

“Music is just, you know, those songs that just live inside of you. It lives inside of me. And you just love it so much because it was done so well that you wish you wrote it. That’s how I feel about these songs. I wish I wrote them,” she said.

Jennifer Lopez gave a high energy performance, paying tribute to the legacy of Motown Records. She sang “Dancing in the Street,” “Please Mr. Postman,” “The Best Things in Life Are Free,” “Do You Love Me,” and more. Smokey Robinson then joined Lopez for “My Girl.” Ne-Yo also performed with Lopez. The Grammy’s also had performances from Post Malone, Kacey Musgraves, Cardi B, Diana Ross, and many more.

The American country music duo, Dan and Shay, proved that they have a perfect pitch with the performance of their single “Tequila,” which earned them a standing ovation. The song also won them Grammy for the Best Country Duo/Group Performance. Dan and Shay also presented the Grammy for Best Rap Song to Drake for “God’s Plan.” Drake didn’t perform during the telecast, but unlike Childish Gambino he did turn up to collect his trophy. He had some very important words of wisdomb to share with young people pursuing music, that is until the producers cut him off mid-sentence and went to commercial.

The Grammy’s then celebrated Diana Ross’ 75th birthday. But it’s her 9-year-old grandson, Raif-Henok Emmanuel Kendrick, that might have stolen the show. Host Alicia Keys welcomed the “distinguished little guy” to the stage. But Raif-Henok wasn’t having it. He joked, “Did she say little guy? I’m almost 4 foot 9.” Raif-Henok went on to thank Keys and express his feelings about his “grand mommy Diana Ross.” Ross, who has actually never won a Grammy, but was presented with the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012, went on to perform “The Best Years of My Life” and “Reach Out and Touch (Somebody’s Hand).”

The K-pop group, BTS, presented Best R&B album to H.E.R. for her self-titled project. She said that she was overwhelmed by the honor, thanked God, and invited her team to join her on stage.

Cardi B won Best Rap Album for “Invasion of Privacy,” becoming the first solo woman artist to win the Grammy in this category. She thanked her daughter, Kulture, explaining that her pregnancy forced her to release her album and music videos before her stomach started showing.

“I want to thank all the artists that took their time and did verses for my album,” Cardi B said before turning to Offset, saying, “You, husband, thank you.”


The Grammy’s gave Dolly Parton a full tribute during the show, with all her best gal pals/successors/spiritual children and Katy Perry. Kacey Musgraves, Maren Morris, and Little Big Town all joined in giving Dolly Parton her flowers, but a special treat came from Miley Cyrus, Parton’s goddaughter, who reprised her “Jolene” cover for a duet with Parton. BTS, who managed to be the most-tweeted-about act in attendance, were spotted dancing during the Dolly Parton tribute performance.

The Grammy for Best New Artist was taken home by Dua Lipa, right after her performance with St. Vincent. The “New Rules” singer thanked her team and fans. “I’m so nervous, so grateful and so excited,” said Lipa. She also paid tribute to individuality and being true to yourself.

Yolanda Adams, Fantasia, and Andra Day teamed up to honor the late Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, with a stirring rendition of “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.” The three women stood side by side, as they each took verses, first Adams, then Fantasia, then Day. Each of the women put their own unique, soulful, and at times fiery touches on the soul standard. It ended on a brilliant high as the three singers harmonized “woman.”

The last award, which was for the Album of the Year was won by Kacey Musgraves, an American country music singer and songwriter, for her “Golden Hour.” Earlier she had won three Grammys for the Best Country Album, Best Country Solo Performance, and Best Country Song. Musgraves thanked everyone for supporting her music.

It was with this that the 2019 Grammy’s ended. Some were delighted after winning and some planned to step up their game for next year. We are already looking forward to next year’s Grammy’s, while we listen to the new songs the artists have released for us.