Tracy Chapman, Joni Mitchell on stage, an award-winning rapper who was arrested a few minutes later, a touch of Afrobeat: beyond the essential Taylor Swift, the Grammy Awards, awards of the American music industry, had some surprises in store on Sunday evening in Los Angeles .
Tracy Chapman, Joni Mitchell… the evening of legends
Amidst SZA, Olivia Rodrigo and Miley Cyrus, one of the evening's musical highlights was the rare appearance of Tracy Chapman, who performed her classic Fast Car (1988) as a duet with country artist Luke Combs. With long, slightly graying braids, a guitar slung over her shoulder and a voice as soft and pure as ever, the Cleveland singer received a standing ovation while many fans shared their emotions on social media.
“Fast Car” was one of Chapman's first successes, which she made known through her performance at the famous Wembley concert against apartheid in South Africa and on the 70th birthday of the then imprisoned Nelson Mandela. Thanks to Luke Combs' cover, the song got a second life this year.
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At 80, the legendary Joni Mitchell, symbol of the Woodstock generation, won the 10th Grammy of her career for her album “Joni Mitchell at Newport,” a concert that marked her return to the stage after a ruptured aneurysm. On stage at the Crypto.com Arena, sitting on a throne, wearing a black beret and holding a walking stick, she delivered a moving rendition of her song Both Sides Now.
Among the tributes, a teary-eyed Annie Lennox sang “Nothing Compares 2 U” by Irishwoman Sinead O'Connor, who died in 2023, before launching “Artists for a Ceasefire” in the Gaza gang. One of the rare political interventions of the evening.
Celine Dion, still there
Weakened by a rare neurological pathology called stiff person syndrome, Celine Dion made a brief surprise appearance to present Taylor Swift with the night's most prestigious award, Album of the Year. “When I say I’m happy to be here, I really mean it with all my heart,” she said. “Those who were fortunate enough to attend the Grammy Awards should never take for granted the immense love and joy that music brings to our lives and to people around the world,” she continued.
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The star from Quebec, nominated 16 times for the Grammy Awards (5 wins), has not been on stage since a concert in Newark (USA) in March 2020. A few days ago, Amazon Prime Video announced the upcoming release of a documentary about the 55-year-old singer I Am: Céline Dion, with which she wants to raise awareness of her illness.
Three Grammy awards, then handcuffs
Winning three Grammy Awards and leaving the party in handcuffs isn't an everyday occurrence. But that's exactly what happened to rapper Killer Mike on Sunday evening. As the star of the evening in the hip-hop category, he won three gramophones, including best rap album for Michael and best rap song for Scientists & Engineers, in particular with André 3000 from the duo OutKast.
But shortly after this award, which was presented as part of the pre-ceremony, a video posted on social networks showed him walking in the hallways of the Crypto.com Arena, handcuffed and escorted by police. When asked about the reason for this arrest, the Los Angeles police did not immediately comment.
Rewarded with an award for his entire hip-hop career, another rapper, Jay-Z, raised goosebumps in the audience by reliving the controversy surrounding his wife Beyoncé, who was up for the Queen Award at the Grammy Awards the best album was always ignored. A paradox, because “Queen B” is the most awarded artist in the history of the ceremony with 32 gramophones.
“Think about it, more Grammys, not a single album of the year, something's wrong,” he said, with his wife present in the room.
Beyoncé became the highest-grossing female artist of all time at last year's Grammy Awards, but she missed out on the Album of the Year award in favor of British pop star Harry Styles. In 2017, she was also snubbed by the Recording Academy for favoring diva Adele, sparking criticism of the lack of diversity at the Grammy Awards. A criticism that Jay-Z apparently wanted to put on the table again on Sunday evening.
A touch of Afrobeat
Global Afrobeat star from Nigeria, Burna Boy brought the evening to the stage with a musical performance which was soon joined by singer Brandy and rapper 21 Savage.
A chance for the American high mass to give its epithets to the genre that has flooded the African airwaves for a decade and now those of the world. For the first time in its history, the Grammy Awards on Sunday included Best African Musical Performance among its categories. South African singer Tyla won the award for her song “Water”.